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Migrants surrender to Saudi police

Saudi security forces detained Ethiopian workers during clashes between migrants and vigilantes on Saturday.

Faisal Al Nasser/Reuters

Saudi security forces detained Ethiopian workers during clashes between migrants and vigilantes on Saturday.

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Thousands of African migrants residing illegally in Saudi Arabia’s main city of Riyadh surrendered to police on Sunday, residents said, a day after two people were killed in clashes between Ethiopians and vigilante residents backed by police.

The clashes, which also injured 68, were the clearest sign yet of how rapidly a nationwide crackdown on millions of foreign workers in Saudi Arabia could spiral into chaos and instability in the tightly controlled kingdom.

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The sweeps and deportations appear to have broad backing by Saudis since it is aimed largely at creating more job opportunities for the kingdom’s own citizens, who make up less than half of the country’s workforce.

The official Saudi news agency said police arrested 561 rioters who barricaded themselves in the narrow streets of Riyadh’s Manhoufa neighborhood Saturday night. It said they threw stones, threatened people with knives, and damaged more than 100 cars and many shops.

The agency described the rioters as ‘‘anonymous’’ without saying why they were rioting. It quoted a Riyadh police spokesman as saying a Saudi man and an unidentified person were killed by rioters, who were mostly foreign workers without work permits and facing deportation.

An Egyptian resident said violence erupted when Ethiopian migrants with guns and sticks closed off busy streets and forced stores to close early in protest of the killing of an Ethiopian man by police last week during raids against foreigners.

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