An attacker opened fire at local education department offices in southern Saudi Arabia on Thursday, killing six employees in what authorities are treating as a criminal attack, a senior Saudi official said.

The attacker has been arrested, Saudi Interior Ministry spokesman General Mansour Turki said, adding that two people had also been wounded in the assault, which took place in the Aldair Bani Malik governorate in Jizan region.

Saudi newspaper Sabq posted a picture of emergency vehicles outside a four-storey building. Other local media described it as a personal dispute.

Saudi Arabia has seen several incidents of deadly violence in recent months. A suicide bombing and gun attack on Shia Muslim worshippers killed at least four people in eastern Saudi Arabia in January.

Earlier reports suggested the attacker was a teacher, but the BBC has cited state TV reports saying that he was not an employee.