Youth killed in clashes on Bahrain uprising anniversary
MANAMA - Agence France-Presse
AFP PhotoA teenager was shot and killed near Bahrain's capital Thursday as clashes erupted when hundreds took to the streets to mark the second anniversary of a Shiite-led uprising against the kingdom's Sunni rulers.
The demonstrations, staged early morning in Shiite-populated villages across the Gulf archipelago, turned violent when police fired shotguns and tear gas to disperse the crowds, wounding several people, witnesses said.
Protesters responded by hurling petrol bombs at the security forces, they said, and a 16-year-old boy was shot dead during the confrontation, according to the opposition.
On the eve of the anniversary, the opposition held a new round of reconciliation talks with the Bahraini government and its supporters, although there was still no sign of a breakthrough.
The opposition identified the slain teenager as Hussein al-Jaziri, saying he had been killed in the Shiite-populated village of Daih near the capital Manama.
Jaziri was "wounded by a shotgun that regime forces fired... He was severely wounded in his stomach and died at the hospital," the main Shiite opposition bloc, Al-Wefaq, said in an emailed statement.
The interior ministry said on Twitter that "a wounded person who was brought to Al-Salmaniya hospital was pronounced dead and the public prosecution was informed of the incident".
It gave no further details.
Opposition groups had called for strikes and nationwide protests on Thursday and Friday to mark the uprising that began on February 14, 2011 and was crushed by the Bahraini security forces about a month later.
Public security chief Major-General Tariq al-Hassan had warned late on Wednesday that "those who engage in any type of illegal behavior will be dealt with swiftly".
"To ensure peace and tranquility during this period, additional police resources have been deployed throughout the country," said Hassan, urging citizens to "refrain from joining... any illegal activities." But demonstrations took off in the villages of Barbar, Bilad al-Qadim, and Sitra where protesters waving Bahraini flags chanted: "The people want to overthrow the regime" and "Down Hamad," referring to the Sunni monarch.
Protesters blocked several roads across the Gulf state, home to the US Fifth Fleet, burning tyres, garbage and tree branches.
The clandestine radical cyber group February 14 Revolution Youth Coalition had called for marches in the capital.
Demonstrators tried to march towards what was once known as Pearl Square in central Manama, the symbolic centre of the uprising where protesters had camped before being driven out by security forces.
Police were heavily deployed around the square Thursday in a bid to dissuade gatherings.
Meanwhile, representatives of the opposition, and other pro-government political groups, and the government held on Wednesday a new session of national dialogue talks that resumed at the weekend.
Opposition groups, including Al-Wefaq, made a last-minute decision to join the talks after they had walked out in the first round in July 2011, complaining that they were not a serious attempt to build a national consensus.
The kingdom has been in political deadlock since February 2011 with the government of Bahrain making no political concessions to the opposition.
The two years of unrest have left at least 80 people dead, according to the International Federation for Human Rights.