Arrests in Bahrain as Shiites protest gov’t

Arrests in Bahrain as Shiites protest gov’t

Arrests in Bahrain as Shiites protest gov’t

Police firing tear gas chase Bahraini antigovernment protesters during clashes. AP photo

Bahraini police dispersed anti-government protesters who blocked roads in several villages, an official statement said yesterday, as tensions in the Shiite-majority Gulf kingdom continue to rise.

Public Security Chief Major General Tariq al-Hassan said “vandals blocked roads” and threw petrol bombs during Tuesday night clashes, according to a statement published on the official BNA news agency website. Hassan said security forces made “several arrests” in Shiite villages, but gave no further details on the exact location of the clashes or if there were any injuries.

Former opposition MP Matar Matar told Agence France-Presse that protesters clashed with security forces in at least four Shiite villages, leaving several people injured, including one who remains in serious condition after being hit on the head with a tear gas canister. “One young man is in hospital and is in critical condition,” said Matar, who is also a member of the key Shiite opposition group Al-Wefaq, noting another two protesters have been killed in recent months from similar tear gas injuries. “This indicates the existence of a (government) policy to intentionally injure protesters rather than just merely disperse them,” said Matar.

On December 31, Al-Wefaq said 15-year-old Sayyed Hashem Saeed died after being hit in the head by a tear gas canister. The government at the time released a statement saying they would investigate the teenager’s death. On Jan. 23, the United States said it was relocating embassy staff and their families to new neighborhoods in Bahrain’s capital Manama as part of safety precautions amid anti-government unrest. A crackdown on Shiite-led protests in mid-March last year led to the deaths of 35 people, including five security personnel and five detainees tortured to death, a commission appointed by the king to investigate the unrest said.

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