Saudi Officials Arrest Radical Shiite Cleric

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) -- Saudi authorities say they have arrested a radical Shiite cleric following a gunfight and car chase in an area of increasing tensions between the government and the country's Shiite minority.

The official Saudi Press Agency says Sheik Nimr al-Nimr was arrested after he and followers exchanged fire with security forces Sunday and crashed into one of the patrol vehicles. It said al-Nimr, who was wounded in the leg, faces charges of instigating unrest in the oil-rich eastern province.

The arrest could further escalate tensions in the area, where security forces have clashed with protesters demanding greater rights from Saudi's Sunni monarchy.

In 2009, al-Nimr threatened to lead a secession movement unless authorities address Shiite charges of discrimination, including being denied equal shares of the kingdom's oil wealth.

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