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Two police officers shot dead in Saudi Arabia's Riyadh

Two police officers have been gunned down by unknown assailants in an eastern district of Riyadh
Saudi security personnel surround a cafe at the al-Munissiyah district, north-east of Riyadh (AFP)

Two police officers were killed in Saudi Arabia early on Wednesday, after shots were fired from an “unidentified” car in the capital Riyadh, according to state media.

The SPA News Agency said the attack took place at 1:30am (2200 GMT) in an eastern district of Riyadh while the officers were on patrol in their vehicle.

"As a police patrol was carrying out its duties in eastern Riyadh, it came under fire from an unidentified vehicle, leaving two policemen dead," read a statement issued by the Riyadh police.

An investigation into the incident has been launched by authorities, according to SPA, without providing any details.

The slain officers have been named as Thamer Amran al-Mutairi and Abdulmohsen Khalaf al-Mustairi.

Although attacks in Riyadh are rare, there have been a spate of recent incidents in the Saudi capital.

On 29 March, two police officers were wounded in a similar attack in Riyadh, just days after the Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef ordered security to be tightened nationwide as the kingdom launched airstrikes against Houthi rebels in neighbouring Yemen.

The conservative kingdom is also part of a US-led coalition taking part in an air war against the Islamic State (IS) group, which has seized swathes of Syria and Iraq.

On 22 March, the United States resumed consular services in the kingdom following a week-long closure over unspecified "heightened security concerns".

In January, three guards, including a commander, were killed in a desert area near the Iraqi border during a battle with Saudis who had infiltrated from the Iraqi side. No group has claimed responsibility for that attack.

Westerners have been attacked in Saudi Arabia four times since October, including drive-by shooting that wounded a Danish national in Riyadh on 22 November. Authorities later arrested three suspected IS supporters.