Clashes erupt at demonstrations in Bahrain

Sunni-ruled country sees more unrest over arrest of main Shia opposition politician for alleged incitement of violence.

Anti-riot police and hundreds of demonstrators keeping up daily protests to demand the release of Bahrain’s main Shia opposition leader have clashed in villages near Manama, witnesses said.

An unspecified number of arrests were made and several people were wounded as police fired buckshot and tear gas to disperse the protests staged after weekly prayers in mosques on Friday.

The demonstrators, including women and children, carried portraits of jailed Al-Wefaq leader Sheikh Ali Salman and chanted slogans calling for his release.

Anti-riot police were deployed in force on an avenue which links several Shia villages to the west of the capital and manned checkpoints on main roads to prevent the protests from spilling over, witnesses said.

It was the sixth straight day of protests since Salman, 49, was arrested on Sunday, accused of making statements inciting violence.

Protests on Thursday also turned violent and witnesses reported clashes in central Manama after prayers at the capital’s Mumen mosque.

Previous unrest has centred on Shia communities in the suburbs.

Police used tear gas and batons against the protesters, and some injuries and arrests were reported.

“Dozens of people … including women and children, were arrested,” a statement from the Bahrain Observatory for Human Rights said.

Salman, 49, was charged on Monday with seeking to use force to change the regime.

The US, which has its Fifth Fleet based in Bahrain, has also expressed deep concern about Salman’s detention, warning that it could only inflame the persistent violence that has gripped the kingdom since 2011.

Bahrain is a majority Shia country ruled by minority Sunnis.

Source: News Agencies