Violent riots have taken place in Manfouha, a neighbourhood in Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh, over the last few days.
There are reports that three Ethiopians and a Sudanese man have been killed in the clashes between illegal migrant workers and the police.
“A dispute between a group of citizens and violators of the residence and work permits happened, resulting in fights between the two groups with knives” a police spokesman is reported to have told the official Saudi Press Agency.
The spokesman added that 17 other people of different nationalities had been injured and taken to hospital after the clashes.
Gunshots could occasionally be heard from inside Manfouha, a low-income area of Riyadh that is home to many poorer immigrants.
In an attempt to cut the 12.5% unemployment rate for native Saudis the world’s top oil exporter is pushing its 9 million foreigners to resolve irregularities in their documents or face penalties including prison and deportation. The kingdom has carried out raids on shops, offices and marketplaces to check visas.
Since the end of its final amnesty tens of thousands of people with incorrect paperwork have been deported.
Reports say that there have been other disturbances in recent days, leading to arrests in the cities of Jeddah and Mecca.