Teen protester ‘shot in chest’ in Bahrain

Boy among several people wounded when police opened fire as thousands joined funeral procession, opposition group says.

Clashes, protest and funeral in Bahrain
On Friday several thousand people joined a funeral procession for a man shot during a protest two weeks ago [Reuters]

A 15-year-old boy was shot in the chest by anti-riot police in Bahrain during a funeral procession for an activist killed last month, according to an opposition group.

Mohammed Ahmed Abdel Aziz was in intensive care and several others wounded when police fired on mourners with tear gas and live rounds, the Al-Wefaq group said on Saturday.

Thousands of people attended the funeral procession on Friday for Ahmed Ismail, 22, in Salmabad just outside the capital Manama.

Ismail was described by Al-Wefaq as a citizen journalist. His family and opposition members blamed his death on pro-government gunmen.

The latest clashes came as it was announced that the Bahrain Grand Prix Formula One race would go ahead despite continuing unrest in the Gulf Arab state.

Bahrain’s main Shia opposition had called for the event to be cancelled but also urged people not to disrupt the race if it went ahead to avoid damaging their cause.

‘Down with Hamad!’

“Down with Hamad!” chanted some marchers on Friday, referring to King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, who brought in an independent commission last year to investigate alleged crimes during the crackdown and has since promised reforms to prevent abuses by security forces.

Security forces were on alert in case clashes between youths and police in Shia villages escalated and in case of a deterioration in the health of hunger-striking jailed activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja .

Khawaja has gone without food for more than 60 days and was moved to a military hospital last week.

On Thursday night, gangs of youths attacked cars and tried to march on a neighbouring Shia district after a Sunni Muslim-led rally.

Last year’s Bahrain Grand Prix was repeatedly re-scheduled and then finally cancelled by organisers due to the violence in the country.

Circuit chairman Zayed Alzayani said last month that the race contributed $220m directly to the local economy and $400-500m indirectly.

In a statement issued early on Friday, the FIA, motor sport’s ruling body, said it was “satisfied that all the proper security measures are in place” and that therefore the race would go ahead as scheduled.

Speaking from Shanghai ahead of the Chinese Grand Prix, Bernie Ecclestone, Formula One’s boss, said he knew people “that live there [in Bahrain] and it’s all very quiet and peaceful”.

All 12 Formula One teams told Ecclestone on Friday they were happy to travel to the kingdom despite the ongoing unrest.

Source: News Agencies