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A gas pipeline in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province was hit on 2 September amid a firefight between militants and Saudi security forces. A small fire was extinguished quickly with no disruption to operations and officials dismissed the incident as minor. Some reports suggested the incident was an attempted attack on the pipeline, which if true, would indicate a potential threat to energy infrastructure in the key OPEC state and comes as dozens were arrested in a sweep of terror suspects, most of them Saudi nationals.
The suspected 2 September attack occurred near the village of Awamiya. The official Saudi Ministry of Interior account indicates that it was caused by an exchange of fire between Saudi police and gunmen in a part of the Eastern Province, the kingdom’s key oil hub, which has witnessed unrest by the Shia minority in the past. Long considered Saudi Arabia’s soft underbelly, security has in recent months been boosted because of the rising threat from the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), which has taken over large chunks of territory in Iraq and edged closer to the eastern Saudi border. (CONTINUED - 1149 WORDS)