Bahrain demonstrators defy police ban

2012-01-07 22:00

Dubai - Hundreds of Bahrainis gathered on Saturday for a demonstration called by the Shi'ite-led opposition defying a ban by police.

Cleric Sheikh Ali Salman, who heads the main Shi'ite opposition formation al-Wefaq, appeared along with leading opposition figures among the protesters, according to rights activist Yusif al-Mahafda and footage posted on social networks.

The demonstration on the service lane of a highway leading to Manama was called for by four opposition groups, led by al-Wefaq.

Riot police blocked the roads leading to the assembly point in Tubli, southwest of the capital, forcing demonstrators to gather across the road, former MP Matar Matar told AFP.

Salman later told demonstrators to go home after fruitless negotiations with the police, saying that the "message was delivered", Matar said.

The interior ministry said in a statement on Friday that it had rejected a request by Al-Wefaq to hold the rally because it would "obstruct traffic along the main road."

Demonstrations have become commonplace in Shi'ite villages despite a heavy-handed crackdown that ended a month-long pro-democracy protest in mid-March.

Riot police regularly clash with demonstrators and use tear gas to disperse gatherings.

An international probe into Bahrain's crackdown on protests found that 35 people were killed in the unrest, including five security personnel and five detainees who were tortured to death in custody. Hundreds were injured.

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