Opposition rallies amid deadly unrest in Bahrain

 16 Feb 2013 - 2:53


A Bahraini protester flashes the sign for victory as he holds up a scarf during an anti-government rally to demand political reforms yesterday, in the village of Shakhurah, west of the Bahraini capital Manama.


MANAMA: Bahrain’s police fired tear gas at an opposition rally yesterday marking the second anniversary of a Shia-led uprising against the kingdom’s Sunni rulers, witnesses said, a day after two people died when protests turned violent.

Police also used sound bombs to disperse thousands of opposition supporters who staged a mid-afternoon demonstration on the Boudaya highway that links a string of Shia-populated villages with the capital Manama, witnesses said.

Waving national flags, protesters chanted “Down with the dictatorship!” as they were led by Sheikh Ali Salman of Al Wefaq, who heads the main Shia opposition group. Bahrain has seen two years of political upheaval linked to opposition demands for a constitutional monarchy.

The latest wave of protests and clashes that began on Thursday comes as the opposition engages the authorities in a new round of a national dialogue aimed at resolving the deadlock.

“The government will not permit the use of violence to pressure negotiators,” Justice Minister Sheikh Khaled Al Khalifa, who is also coordinator of the national dialogue, said yesterday. “Whoever claims to be serious and real should not incite violence.”

Demonstrations on Thursday coinciding with the actual anniversary of the start of the uprising on February 14, 2011 turned deadly when a teenager was killed by police gunfire in a village near Manama. Clashes raged sporadically in other outlying Shiite villages through the night and into the early hours of Friday, during which a policeman was killed by a petrol bomb, the interior ministry said. “Police officer Mohamed Atef, hit by an incendiary device which seriously injured him, died soon after he was admitted to hospital,” public security chief Major-General Tariq Al Hassan said in an interior ministry statement.

Protesters hurled petrol bombs, iron bars and stones at police in the Shia-populated village of Al Sahla where the incident occurred, Hassan said.

The opposition identified the teenager slain on Thursday as Hussein Al Jaziri, saying he was killed in the Shia village of Daih near Manama. AFP