Sajaad Mohamed Abu Abdallah, who would have turned four in October, passed away on Wednesday at nearby Dammam Maternity and Children’s Hospital, where he had been cared for since a bullet hit him in the torso and right hand in the 12 June incident.
Sajaad’s uncle – who asked not to be named – said that he, his sister, her five-year-old daughter and her son Sajaad tried to drive past Awamiyah police station, one of the main headquarters for the Saudi security services in the stand-off with Shiite protesters, when the shooting occurred, The Independent reported.
There was an armored vehicle with a mounted gun turret outside the station, he said, and a road barrier which meant he had to take an exit to the right.
"So I slowed down and I heard shooting. When I heard this, I sped up. I was twisting and turning and then I heard shooting at the car. My sister and her five-year-old daughter were crying and Sajaad was silent. I looked back and saw he was injured… my sister cried and took him to the front seat,” the man said. They then drove to the nearest medical center.
The street had been completely empty at the time, he added, and there had been no warning before the shooting began.
Photographs taken by Sajaad’s uncle showed that one bullet entered the car through the left rear door, where the boy was sitting. It hit the toddler in the right hand, then traveled through his waist and exited his body.
X-rays provided by the family showed that several fragments remained in the child’s torso at the time of his death.
The boy’s family, and pro-Awamiyah activists, say that the fatal wounds could not have been the result of anything other than the security forces’ armed car aiming at civilians.
The Saudi government was contacted for comment on the allegation that its troops or police had caused the boy’s death, but did not immediately respond.
The Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) and European-Saudi Organization for Human Rights (ESOHR), among other organizations, are now calling for an independent investigation into the circumstances surrounding Sajaad’s death.
At least one other child – a two-year-old boy – has been killed in the Saudi crackdown on Shiites in Awamiyah since the attack by the regime began on May 10.
Locals say between 12-25 people have died in indiscriminate shelling and sniper fire which has completely flattened parts of the old al-Musawara neighborhood. Riyadh has repeatedly denied such claims.
Information from the district has been difficult to verify as it is heavily controlled by the Saudi regime, but sources both inside and outside the city say that the humanitarian situation for Awamiyah’s 30,000 residents has been untenable – people have been too afraid to leave their homes, and in many cases the electricity supply and water had been shut off.
Al-Awamiyah, a town of 30,000 in the Shiite-majority Qatif district, was the home of Nimr al-Nimr, a Shiite cleric put to death in January last year over trumped-up charges.
The Shiite-populated Eastern Province has been the scene of peaceful demonstrations since February 2011. Protesters have been demanding reforms, freedom of expression, the release of political prisoners, and an end to economic and religious discrimination against the oil-rich region.