Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Teargas and birdshot at 1st anniversary of Bahrain uprising

Protesters throw stones at a police car on the outskirts of Manama om 14 February, the anniversary of last year's uprising. (AP)

Bahrain has celebrated its first anniversary of the - mainly Shiite - uprising with clashes that continued through Tuesday night and early Wednesday. Bahraini police fired tear gas and birdshot at pro-democracy protestersThe government meanwhile said in a statement it had deported six US citizens for joining the "illegal demonstrations," bringing the number of Americans expelled from Bahrain to eight since the end of last week.
 Witnesses said the clashes, which took place in Shiite neighbourhoods on the outskirts of the capital Manama, left many people wounded, but most received treatment in private homes. Wounded protesters in Bahrain avoid hospitals for fear of arrest or intimidation by the authorities. In a statement released Wednesday, the main Shiite opposition Al-Wefaq said "large numbers of injuries ... were caused by birdshot pellets, tear gas canisters, stun grenades," but gave no figure.
 Bahraini police made dozens of arrests while dispersing protesters attempting to march on the capital's former Pearl Square, the focal point of last year's 14 February uprising that was crushed a month later. "The total number of arrests ... is around 150, including women and children between the ages of 13 and 16," the Al-Wefaq statement said, adding that some were later released.
Prominent activist Nabil Rajab, head of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, who on Tuesday led a demonstration towards the square, was also briefly detained by police, Al-Wefaq said in a statement on its Facebook page.
Thirty five people got killed in the crackdown that followed last year's uprising, according to an independent commission of inquiry into the violence. Amnesty International said in a statement last week that "at least a further 20 have died," in ongoing protests since the end of November when the report was released.

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