|Authorities arrested a prominent human rights blogger on Thursday, leading to more pro-democracy protests [Reuters]|
Witnesses say opposition supporters in Bahrain have clashed with police for a third straight day along a main highway west of the capital.
Police used tear gas and stun grenades to disperse thousands of protesters gathered on Saturday along Budaiya highway, which connects a string of largely Shia villages west of the capital, Manama.
Protesters massed along the highway after the funeral of a protester who opposition supporters say died during a rally on Thursday. Witnesses say the man was hit by a police car.
Bahrain’s interior ministry has denied that police were responsible for the death.
The clashes come during 10 months of unrest in the Gulf kingdom between the Sunni monarchy and an opposition movement led by the country’s Shia majority.
Ali Salman, the leader of Bahrain’s main Shia opposition group al-Wefaq, has called on the Gulf kingdom’s authorities to release a prominent human rights blogger who was detained during a protest.
Police arrested Zainab al-Khawaja on Thursday as she took part in a protest on a highway leading to Manama, according to the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights.
A video posted online showed her being roughed up, handcuffed and dragged away.
“We support Zainab and call for her release,” Salman told the AFP news agency on Friday during a visit to London.
He said continued arrests of protesters showed that the government was not serious about enacting reforms it had promised after the publication last month of a highly critical report on the protests in February and March.
The report said the death toll from a crackdown on the Shia-led pro-democracy protests in Bahrain had reached 35, and police had used “excessive force” and tortured detainees.
“After the report, they return to the same methods… they kill more people they put more people in prison,” said Salman.
“It sends a bad message from the regime that it does not respect the recommendations of the report.”
Salman also said he is to hold talks with the British minister for the Middle East, Alistair Burt, on Monday in London.