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Saudi Arabia has formally launched an investigation to determine if two of its security officers sexually assaulted two male pilgrims from Iran, local media quoted an Interior ministry spokesperson as saying.
Earlier this week, Iran suspended all flights to Saudi Arabia for the Umrah pilgrimage after two teenage boys reported being abused by local security officers in Jeddah airport.
The incident occurred during a security search in the airport when the boys were on their way back to Tehran from the pilgrimage, the Iranian Students News Agency reported.
Both officers were taken into custody soon after the claims were revealed, authorities said. They have been handed to the Bureau of Investigation and Public Prosecution for further enquiry, state news agency SPA said.
The Saudi ministry spokesman has asserted that the country’s sharia system “will ensure the strictest penalties for perpetrators of these types of crimes, which are condemned by all sections of Saudi society”, according to Arab News.
In a public show of protest, several demonstrators marched to the Saudi embassy in Tehran on Saturday disregarding the ban on such public demonstrations.
The incident comes amidst increased tensions between the two countries that are currently involved in a proxy war in Yemen.
Saudi Arabia and a coalition of its Gulf allies have been conducting air strikes against Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.
Both the countries are also supporting different sides in Syria where Riyadh is against the current president Bashar Assad while Tehran is pro-Assad.