Bahraini police firing teargas and birdshot have clashed with stone-throwing protesters in a village west of the capital after the funeral of a young man who died in custody, witnesses said.
The violence on Sunday followed the death of Fadhel Abbas, and threatened to sour a new attempt to restart negotiations between Bahrain’s government and opposition groups.
Police said Abbas was detained on January 8 on suspicion of smuggling weapons and explosives and died late on Saturday. The force’s statement, released on Sunday, said he was shot in a car while attempting to run over police who were trying to arrest him. Another person in the vehicle was in police custody, it added.
The main opposition, Wefaq said Abbas was hit with live ammunition in the village of Markh, near the capital, Manama.
His family received no information about him or his whereabouts until his death was confirmed Sunday, Wefaq spokesman Hadi al Musawi said – a report the government denied.
‘Premeditation to kill’
Wefaq hailed him as a “martyr” and alleged he was shot by government forces “who acted with premeditation to kill.”
Hundreds of people attended his funeral in the village of Diraz on Sunday, said witnesses. Afterwards, protesters blocked roads and set fire to debris in the streets, while security forces tried to break up the crowd.
There were no initial reports of injuries. Wefaq distributed photographs of his body appearing to show a large injury on the back of his head.
Last week, Bahrain’s crown prince restarted stalled talks with the opposition by meeting Wefaq’s leader Sheikh Ali Salman. He also appointed a delegate from the ruling family to attend the dialogue, and agreed on a list of topics for discussion.
The last round of reconciliation talks was suspended last year with the government accusing Wefaq of secretly backing violent attacks on police, and the opposition accusing the authorities of cracking down on its members.