DUBAI - Small groups of demonstrators from Saudi Arabia’s Shia community marked an Iranian-inspired annual protest against Israel in the oil-rich east of the Sunni-dominated kingdom on Friday, witnesses said. Chanting slogans against the Jewish state and its US ally, some of the demonstrators carried pictures of Iran’s revolutionary leader, the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who launched the annual Quds (Jerusalem) Day commemorations around the Shiite world and beyond, the witnesses said. The demonstrations in the Eastern Province’s Qatif district came amid mounting tension between Shiite residents and security forces. On Monday, masked gunmen shot and wounded a Saudi border guard in the district, following clashes between police and protesters.

 A policeman and an armed protester were killed in clashes earlier this month, the interior ministry said, and in July two protesters were killed, triggering attacks on government buildings in Qatif. In May, Amnesty International said seven people had been killed and a number of others injured in clashes between the authorities and protesters in the region since November.