Bahrain to investigate latest protest deaths

Teenager and policeman killed during rallies to mark two years of anti-government protests, activists and officials say.

Bahrain protests
Bahrain has seen several days of protests in the run-up to Thursday's anniversary [Reuters]

Authorities in Bahrain say that they have opened investigations into the deaths of a policeman and a protester during widespread clashes marking the second anniversary of the anti-government uprising in the Gulf kingdom.

The policeman was fatally wounded from a “projectile” after attacks from demonstrators in the village of al-Sahla, Major-General Tariq al-Hassan, an interior ministry spokeperson, said on Friday. An earlier statement blamed his death late on Thursday on a “domestic terror act”.

Meanwhile, a separate investigation is under way into the death of a 16-year-old boy, who activists say was killed on Thursday by police birdshot fire.

Hussain al-Jaziri, 16, was reportedly killed during a protest in al-Daih, a village west of the capital Manama. Witnesses said that he was shot at close range.

Hundreds of people had protested on Thursday in villages across the country, and there were reports of tear gas being used in several locations.

Three Bahraini photojournalists were arrested while working in Daih, according to one of them, Mazen Mahdi, who tweeted about his arrest.

Al Wefaq, the main opposition political bloc, has called for a major demonstration on Friday on a key highway connecting numerous villages on the outskirts of Manama.

The government says that the deaths on Thursday were due to “sectarian terrorism”.

Speaking to Al Jazeera, Samira Rajab, the country’s information minister, alleged that demonstrators had “come out on a suicide mission, prepared to die”.

“[This violence] is fueled from outside with an aim to spread the ideology of anger, revenge and retaliation,” she said.

New ‘national dialogue’

Protesters set up camp at Pearl Roundabout in Manama two years ago, and remained there for nearly a month before being forcibly expelled in mid-March. Authorities later razed the iconic statue at the centre of the square.

More than 80 people have been killed during the two years of unrest.

The government set up an independent commission to study the events. Its report, released in late 2011, documented the excessive use of force against mostly peaceful protesters.

Bahrain says it has implemented the report’s recommendations, but the opposition says that abuses continue, with regular reports of torture and the widespread use of tear gas in villages.

A new round of “national dialogue,” organised by the government, began on Sunday.

The talks includes representatives from Al Wefaq and other opposition groups, plus members of pro-government groups like the National Unity Gathering and Asala, a Salafi party. 

Officials have revealed little about the substance of the talks so far.

The opposition has continued to press for major political reforms, including a constitutional monarchy and an elected prime minister.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies