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Witnesses say Saudi police shot into a crowd of several hundred Shi’ite activists who gathered to protest in an Eastern province Thursday, despite government warnings against demonstrations.

Witnesses say at least one person was wounded.

The police crackdown comes in the wake a Saudi ban on protests announced earlier this month.  The government enacted the ban after several small groups of demonstrators gathered to demand change in the conservative kingdom.

In spite of the ban, activists have been using the Internet to urge Saudis to take to the streets Friday for an anti-government “Day of Rage” rally.

Large opposition rallies are very unusual in Saudi Arabia, but several thousand people have joined Internet groups calling for Friday’s protest in the capital, Riyadh.  Organizers say they will use the rally to call for major political and social change.

In February, Saudi King Abdullah announced a number of reforms, in an apparent effort to appease citizens in the wake of anti-government protests elsewhere in the Middle East.

The incentives included pay raises, increased spending on social programs and interest-free loans.

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