Funeral of protest teen sparks street protests

Bahrain police unleash tear gas, sound grenades as clashes follow funeral of 15-year-old
A Bahraini Shiite girl flashes a victory sign during an anti-government rally
By Reuters
Mon 02 Jan 2012 07:38 AM

Bahraini police fired tear gas and sound grenades after
hundreds of Shi'ite youths demonstrated on Sunday over the death of a
15-year-old protester a day earlier in the Sunni-ruled Gulf island kingdom, residents
and activists said.

Confrontations between security forces and protesters take
place almost daily i
n areas populated by majority Shi'ites, who led
anti-government protests that were crushed last year.

"After the funeral, many of the mourners started
protesting and the police began using tear gas and sound bombs. It is still
going on hours later," a resident said from the mostly Shi'ite village of
Sitra, south of the capital Manama.

At least one demonstrator was wounded after being hit in the
head by a tear gas canister, activists said in Twitter messages.

The opposition said earlier that Sayed Hashim Saeed, who
died on Saturday, had been hit by a tear gas canister at close range, but
officials said the youth's body had extensive burns which could not have been
caused by a tear gas canister.

"Preliminary investigations show that the deceased was
among those who took part in attacks on security forces by throwing petrol
bombs," the state news agency BNA quoted a police official as saying.

A coroner's report said the youth had a neck wound which may
have been fatal and that the cause of death would be investigated.

Authorities said on Sunday they had arrested 11
"saboteurs" suspected of throwing petrol bombs at police during a
protest on Friday in the village of Nuwaidrat, near Sitra, south of Manama, BNA

Shi'ite youths chanting slogans against Bahrain's royal
family clashed with riot police across the Gulf state on Friday and Saturday.
Security forces fired tear gas to try to prevent them from blocking roads, a tactic
often used by protesters.

Inspired by Arab uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, thousands
of mainly Shi'ite Bahrainis took to the streets in February and March demanding
curbs on the power of the ruling Sunni Muslim Al-Khalifa family and an end to
perceived discrimination.

The broader pro-democracy movement was suppressed with
military backing from Bahrain's Sunni-led Gulf neighbours Saudi Arabia and the
United Arab Emirates.

At least 35 people, including five members of the security
forces, were killed in the unrest, according to an inquiry Bahrain commissioned
into the protests and their aftermath. The inquiry said it found evidence of
systematic abuse and torture.

Bahrain has promised to implement the inquiry's
recommendations, which the US Congress has linked to its approval of a $53m arms
sale to Manama
. Opposition groups doubt the kingdom's commitment to reform.

On Saturday, the independent daily Al Wasat said on its
website that the head of the body tasked with implementing the recommendations,
Ali al-Salih, had resigned. There was no official confirmation of the report.

Bahrain is important to Western interests in the Middle East
because it hosts the US Fifth Fleet and faces Shi'ite giant Iran on the other
side of the Gulf. Iran has denied Bahraini government accusations that it has
incited the protests.

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