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Middle East

Bahrain says 'terrorist cell' broken up

Announcement comes after clashes between protesters and police following funeral of teenager killed in demonstration.
Last Modified: 17 Feb 2013 12:48
Witnesses said many opposition demonstrators threw petrol bombs at police during Saturday's confrontation [EPA]

Bahraini authorities say they have broken up a "terrorist cell", just hours after police fired tear gas and clashed with hundreds of stone-throwing anti-government protesters following the funeral of a teenager killed during an earlier demonstration.

Authorities said on Sunday that they had arrested eight members of an alleged "terrorist cell". A statement on the interior ministry's website said the suspected network received training and financial support from Iran, Iraq and Lebanon

Security services "have, with the help of a brotherly country, arrested the members of a terrorist cell made up of eight Bahraini elements", state news agency BNA quoted Sheikh Rashid bin Abdullah Al Khalifa, the interior minister, as saying.

Witnesses said that some of the hundreds of opposition demonstrators also threw petrol bombs at police during Saturday's confrontation near the capital, Manama.

The security forces blocked access to Hussein al-Jaziri's funeral in the village of Daih, firing tear gas and stun grenades to disperse dozens of people trying to push their way through.

Jaziri, 16, died on Thursday after being shot in the stomach by security forces, according to Al-Wefaq, the main opposition bloc.

'Preventive detention'

BNA reported late on Friday that two police officers had been placed in "preventive detention" in connection with Jaziri's death.

After the burial, which witnesses said was attended by thousands of people, a crowd of protesters tried to march on "Pearl Square" in Manama, the focus of the February-March 2011 uprising.

Witnesses said several people were injured when police fired tear gas to disperse them. One was seriously wounded when hit by buckshot fired by security forces, Al-Wefaq said on Twitter.

The violence was the latest in a series of skirmishes between anti-government protesters and police since Thursday, when opposition activists commemorated the second anniversary of a pro-democracy revolt in the Gulf island country.

The protest movement, led by the country's majority Shia community, has been demanding an end to the monarchy's domination of the government and full powers for the parliament.

The opposition says that at least 80 people have died since unrest began in February 2011, while the government puts that figure at 35.

Volatile situation

The situation in Bahrain remains volatile, and at least two people - a policeman and the teenager buried on Saturday - have been killed since the latest protests this week.

Authorities say that at least 75 policemen have been injured in the latest violence.

Shia Muslim villages that ring Manama are the scene of almost daily clashes between youths and police.

The next round of a political dialogue process initiated by the government was scheduled to begin on Sunday, but there was no word from either the government or opposition as to whether the discussions would go ahead in the wake of the latest violence.

Earlier on Saturday, four police officers were shot and wounded in the village of Karzakan, the  interior ministry said.

It also said that a two kilogram bomb had been found on a busy causeway linking Bahrain to Saudi Arabia on Thursday.

The bomb had been defused and did not explode, authorities said.

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