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الاثنين، 17 فبراير 2014

Bahrain: Bomb kills policeman as protesters mark anniversary

Bahrain: Bomb kills policeman as protesters mark anniversary

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A Bahraini policeman was seriously injured and later died of his wounds in the Shiite village of Daih on Saturday, according to the interior ministry.

The "terrorist explosion" struck in the village of Daih outside the capital Manama late on Friday and wounded "two on-duty policemen assigned to secure the road," including the one who later died, the ministry said on Twitter, official news agency BNA reported.

The ministry added that the search operation and investigation launched after the attack was continuing.

Earlier, the ministry reported that a Bahraini police bus was struck in a bomb attack in Daih on Friday, but caused no casualties.

According to The Associated Press, a member from the police near the scene of the blast told reporters that three police officers were injured in the explosion. He insisted on anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly.

Meanwhile, anti-riot police used buckshot, sound grenades and tear gas to disperse demonstrators who were attempting to reach the iconic Pearl Square of Manama on Saturday.

According to media reports, those leading the protest carried a large banner reading, "The march of loyalty to martyrs," while a poster read in English, "No dialog before the downfall of the Al Khalifa regime."

Bahrain's opposition groups, led by the main Shiite opposition party Al Wefaq and supported by Iran, has called for a one-week strike and nationwide protests starting on Thursday to mark the third anniversary of the popular uprising against the Al Khalifa regime.

Witnesses reported that "clouds of tear gas" covered the streets of several Shiite-majority villages around the capital Manama as authorities attempted to contain the demonstrations. Protesters allegedly also set up many makeshift roadblocks of rotten trees and burning tires as a way to defy the police crackdown.

The government reported that the police confronted all "vandals" and "cleared all of the blocked roads."

On Friday, Shiite opposition cleric Sheikh Issa Qassim said during the Friday prayers that "a rally is waiting for you tomorrow [Saturday]. It is supposed to be expressive, effective and gigantic. Fully peaceful, highly civilized."

"The way to achieve the legitimate demands must be constant nonviolent with a significant level of effectiveness."

On Thursday, 29 people from several Bahraini towns and villages, including Jad Hafs, Diraz , al-Nabih and Bilad al Qadim, were detained for plotting attacks on Bahraini police in several villages, Bahrain's interior ministry said.

The ministry also said it would take action against calls to hold rallies and marches. Meanwhile, riot police and other security forces have deployed around the square and other parts of the kingdom to prevent the opposition from staging mass rallies.

Bahrain's Foreign Ministry condemned "irresponsible statements" by a spokeswoman for Iran's Foreign Ministry, which it said was interfering in Bahrain's internal affairs.

In comments to the state news agency, it said it had protested to Iran's charge d'affaires to the kingdom.

Iran also summoned Bahrain's charge d'affaires to protest "unfounded anti-Iran allegations" on Thursday, Iran's Press TV reported.

Bahrain, a staunch ally of the West and the home to the US Navy's Fifth Fleet, has been rocked by political and social unrest since protests, led by the Shiite majority, broke out in February 2011.

According to the International Federation of Human Rights, the three years of violent demonstrations in Bahrain and acts of sabotage and repression have left 89 people dead, including police officials, and injured hundreds others.

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