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Thursday 26 January 2012

Security forces attack Bahraini protesters

Security forces attack Bahraini protesters
Published Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Pro-democracy protests in Bahrain were again attacked by security forces on Tuesday night causing several injuries as authorities scramble to defuse an uprising that is steadily gaining momentum.

Bahrain's official BNA news agency said on Wednesday that riot police attempted to disperse anti-government rallies that blocked roads in a number of villages.

Public Security Chief Major General Tariq al-Hassan said "vandals blocked roads" and threw petrol bombs during clashes on Tuesday night, but gave no further details on the exact location of the clashes or if there were any injuries.

Hassan also said security forces made "several arrests" in the villages.

Mattar Ebahim of the opposition al-Wefaq party said that several people were injured, and one person remains in serious condition after being hit on the head with a tear gas canister when security forces clashed with protesters.

"One young man is in the hospital and is in critical condition," said Matar, a former opposition MP, 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 Mattar.

Mattar said Tuesday night's clashes erupted after posts on social networks, including Facebook and Twitter, called on Bahrainis to go out and "confront" the security forces.

Al-Wefaq posted videos and pictures of security forces in different villages, dressed in full riot gear and hurling metal rods and other objects at protesters.

Other pictures showed clouds of tear gas over a few villages.

The United States on Monday said it was relocating its embassy's staff and families to new neighborhoods in Bahrain's capital Manama as part of safety precautions amid anti-government unrest.

Home to the US Navy's Fifth Fleet and on Iran's doorstep, Bahrain is a crucial US ally in a region as tension between Tehran and Washington heats up.

Bahrain witnessed mass pro-democracy protests inspired by the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt against the royal family of King Hamad al-Khalifa in February 2011 before authorities, backed by neighboring countries, crushed the uprising, killing at least 35 people.

Saudi Arabia and other Gulf neighbors sent troops into Bahrain in March, reinforcing a crackdown that led to accusations of serious human rights violations.

Bahrain human rights groups said in a report last November that "Bahrain committed violations of various international human rights treaties which it has signed and ratified."

The report documented 45 killings, 1500 cases of arbitrary arrest, and 1866 cases of torture, amongst other figures.

A government-established commission found authorities used systematic torture against detainees, but its findings were met with skepticism from opposition groups due to its affiliation with the monarchy.

The commission found only 35 people had died.

The situation is tense in Bahrain as the first anniversary of the uprising edges closer, with more protests expected to mark the occasion

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