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Middle East
Thousands march at Bahraini boy's funeral
Shia groups say 14-year-old died after tear gas canister hit him, a charge denied by the Gulf Arab state's government.
Last Modified: 01 Sep 2011 19:16
About 10,000 marched at 14-year-old boy's funeral, calling for overthrow of King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa [Reuters]

Thousands of Bahrainis have attended funeral procession of a teenager who rights groups say died after being hit by a tear gas canister fired by police.

About 10,000 marched on Thursday at the 14-year-old boy's funeral, calling for the overthrow of King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa and the Sunni Muslim royal family in the Gulf state, Reuters news agency reported.

The marchers, many of them in tears, shouted "Down with Hamad" and "Death to Al-Khalifa", as they carried the Shia Muslim boy's body from his family's home to a cemetery, a witness said.

The crowd dispersed peacefully and there were no reports of clashes with police forces.

The government denied that police were responsible for the death, and offered a 10,000-dinar ($26,500) reward for information on Ali Jawad Ahmad's death.

"The coroner's report indicates that the markings on Ali's neck are not consistent with being hit with a tear gas canister or rubber bullet as some have claimed," the government said in a statement on Thursday.

The statement added that police had asked for the three anonymous men who brought Ali's body to the hospital to make themselves known so that they can explain how the teenager lost his life.

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The boy died after reportedly being hit by a tear gas canister during clashes between anti-government protesters and security forces on Wednesday.

"Ali's other injuries comprised bruising in his mouth area, and bruising on his chin, elbows and pelvis," the government statement said.

"Medically these are described as 'superficial' injuries and did not cause his death. 

"The coroner also concluded that the way these body injuries were inflicted suggest he was attacked, though investigations are underway to verify this."

Activists blamed the police for the death of the teenager, who was among the protesters in the oil hub area of Sitra.

Bahrain has been in turmoil for the past few months since protests by the majority Shia community broke out, demanding greater freedom and political rights.

More than 30 people have been killed since the protests began in February inspired by other uprisings across the Arab world.

More than 70 per cent of Bahrain's population is Shia Muslim but they claim widespread discrimination by the ruling Al-Khalifa dynasty.

Small-scale clashes between police and mostly Shia demonstrators have become a near nightly event in the tense Gulf nation since authorities lifted emergency rule in June.

King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa offered compensation to victims of the crackdowns in February, but says protest-related trials will continue.

In July Bahrain's leaders opened reconciliation talks, but the country's main Shia party walked out and threatened to stage further protests.

An independent fact-finding panel is investigating alleged rights abuses in Bahrain and is expected to release its findings at the end of October.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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