Bahrain mourners attack police

2012-04-26 22:12

Dubai - Bahraini protesters attacked a police station with petrol bombs on Thursday and riot police responded with teargas and stun grenades after a funeral march for a man who was killed in clashes during the Gulf Arab state's Formula One race last week.

The clashes in the Manama neighbourhood of al-Bilad al-Qadeem came after thousands of mourners visited the grave of Salah Abbas Habib, 36, who was found dead on Saturday after he disappeared during fighting with police.

Bahrain, where the Sunni Muslim Al Khalifa family rules over a majority Shi'ite Bahraini population, has been turmoil since a pro-democracy uprising erupted last year after successful revolts in Egypt and Tunisia.

Petrol bombs set the police station's wall ablaze and the clashes spilled onto a main highway, holding up traffic for up to an hour, Reuters witnesses said.

Habib's battered body was buried by his family in the village of Shakhura on Monday, with extensive birdshot wounds which friends said he sustained during clashes with police he took part in the previous evening.

The main opposition party Wefaq says Habib's body showed signs of torture, including multiple fractures and birdshot pellets that appeared to have been fired at close range. The interior ministry has said it would establish what happened to Habib.

Wefaq says his death takes to 81 the number of people killed since the protests began. That figure includes 35 who died during the initial uprising and crackdown with over two months of martial law, including five security personnel.

The government disputes the causes of death in many of the cases and says the protesters are hooligans who are trying to kill police. It says a home made bomb wounded four policeman this week, while seven others were wounded earlier this month.

The turmoil has continued with regular mass marches and almost daily clashes in Shi'ite areas throughout the island.

The protests escalated ahead of last week's Formula One Grand Prix, drawing criticism of Bahrain from some governments, rights groups and media watchdogs who say police use excessive force and the government should find a political solution.

Fasting for 78 days

Interior Minister Sheikh Rashed bin Abdullah Al Khalifa defended policing on Wednesday, saying they had a right to defend themselves.

Protesters and opposition parties want to end domination by the ruling family through giving parliament full powers to legislate and form governments. The government has offered little, accusing the opposition of being lackeys of Iran.

Analysts say Bahrain has found itself dragged into the regional rivalry between Saudi Arabia, which sees itself as the bastion of Sunni Islam, and Shi'ite power Iran. While Riyadh has backed Bahrain's US-allied Sunni rulers, Iranian media give prominent coverage to the opposition.

Concerns for the life of a jailed opposition leader on hunger strike have sharpened the tension in the country, which hosts the US Fifth Fleet and is also seen by Washington as a bulwark against Iranian expansionism.

Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, one of 14 men in prison for leading an uprising last year, has been fasting for 78 days. He is serving a life sentence for expressing support for Bahrain becoming a republic during last year's uprising.

His wife and his lawyer both say military hospital authorities have prevented contact with Khawaja this week, though the interior minister said on Twitter on Wednesday evening that he was in "good health".

The next session in an appeal hearing for Khawaja and 13 others jailed for leading last year's protests is due on Monday.

Khawaja is respected by international rights groups as a rights defender but seen by some Bahrainis as a Shi'ite Islamist activist.

Criticism by Western allies such as the UK and the US has been muted for fear of alienating a trusted friend as well as its Saudi neighbour, which fears unrest could spread amongst Shi'ites in the oil region of its Eastern Province.

Read more on:    bahrain  |  uprisings  |  bahrain protests

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts

Innovation and initiation are highlighted today, but you may find yourself needing to change direction and redirect your more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.