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DUBAI (Reuters) - At least two people were killed when a car exploded in Saudi Arabia's eastern city of Qatif on Thursday, Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya television reported.

It said initial reports indicated the victims were "fugitives", a term that suggested people being sought by the kingdom's security services.

The channel had earlier said the blast was caused by a car bomb. Its website posted images of thick black smoke rising from a street.

A resident contacted by telephone by Reuters said he had heard a blast and saw smoke rising above an area that police had blocked off. Saudi authorities were not immediately available for comment.

Photos sent over social media showed a body apparently completely burned being pulled from the wreckage of a car. The authenticity of the photos could not immediately be verified.

Qatif, home to a large Shi'ite Muslim population, has been a flashpoint between the Sunni Muslim government and Shi'ites complaining of discrimination.

(Reporting by Sami Aboudi and Sylvia Westall; Editing by Catherine Evans)

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