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Thu 10 Mar 2011 06:43 PM

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Sectarian clashes erupt in Bahrain girls' school

Violence erupts between Shi'ite students and Sunni parents; country gripped by worst unrest since 1990s

Sectarian clashes erupt in Bahrain girls' school
SCHOOL FIGHTS: Witnesses said fighting broke out at a school in the small city of Sar (Getty Images - for illustrative purposes only)
Sectarian clashes erupt in Bahrain girls' school
Sectarian clashes erupt in Bahrain girls' school

Sectarian clashes erupted

at a girls' school in Bahrain on Thursday as the country looked

increasingly split between Shi'ites protesting against the

government and Sunnis who support it.

The Gulf Arab country has been gripped by the worst unrest

since the 1990s since protesters took to the streets last month,

inspired by uprisings that unseated entrenched rulers in Egypt

and Tunisia.

Seven have been killed in clashes with security forces in

the Gulf island kingdom, home to the US Navy's Fifth Fleet,

and thousands of the Feb. 14 youth movement are still occupying

Manama's Pearl Square.

Witnesses said fighting broke out at a school in the small

city of Sar, an area where both Shi'ites and Sunni live, when

students launched anti-government protests.

"During the break we went on a peaceful protest, we

gathered, a few girls. Next thing we know a group of naturalised

people were let into school and the school door was locked, they

had iron and wooden sticks and knives," said one student.

They said parents of pro-government students of naturalised

Sunni families came to the school armed with clubs. Parents of

Shi'ite parents then also arrived and clashes erupted.

Bahrain's practice of settling Sunni foreigners serving in

its security apparatus is a thorny issue for the Shi'ite

opposition. It views it as an attempt by the Sunni ruling family

to change the country's sectarian balance, an accusation the

government denies.

It was not clear whether there were any injuries but one

witness said he saw an ambulance driving away one girl.

The country saw the first clashes between Sunni and Shi'ite

residents last week when at least a hundred residents fought

with clubs in Hamad Town, an area where people of both sects

live. Several residents were injured.

It was not clear what prompted the clashes that lasted about

two hours before police and politicians calmed the situation,

but residents said that people of Syrian origin had been

involved.

Abusidra 8 years ago

Wherever US goes, sectarian clashes follows. Living example Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bahrain etc. They are adopting the British policy of divide and rule. In modern times we never heard of big clashes earlier in this part of the world especially concerning Sunnis and Shiites.

Jezinho 8 years ago

You can pin a lot of things on the US but the ethnic mix in Bahrain and its Govt's policy of naturalising foreign BDF members is not one of them. You are kidding yourself if you think the sectarian divide here is something new. In Saddam's Iraq, it was only hidden because of his brutally oppressive regime and in Bahrain there have been simmering tensions for years with regular clashes in the villages - indeed there were major problems here back in 1996/7. Of course, the US does not "rule" Bahrain.

At the end of the day, the protagonists themselves have to take responsibility for their own behaviour.