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Sun 1 Jan 2012 09:17 AM

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Youth protesters, police clash across Bahrain

Rioters chanting anti-gov't slogans try to block highways as protests enter second day

Youth protesters, police clash across Bahrain
A flashback to the Bahrain uprisings earlier this year

Shi'ite youths chanting slogans against Bahrain's royal
family clashed with riot police across the Gulf island kingdom on Saturday,
trying to block highways in a second day of protests, residents said.

"Death to Al-Khalifa, Death to Al-Saud,"
protesters shouted, also targeting the Saudi ruling family, as they were chased
backed into mostly Shi'ite Muslim villages by police who fired teargas, the
residents said.

"The protests are not as big as the demonstrations on
Friday. Police are focusing on trying to force protesters back into villages,"
one resident said.

Activists said in Twitter messages that a youth died after
being injured in clashes in Sitra village. There was no immediate report on state
media about the incident.

Inspired by Arab Spring 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 Sunni Muslim Al-Khalifa family and an end
to perceived discrimination.

The broader pro-democracy movement was suppressed with the
help of military forces brought in from neighbouring Saudi Arabia and the
United Arab Emirates. But small, low-level protests have persisted on an almost
daily basis.

Authorities said on Saturday they had arrested an
unspecified number of "saboteurs" for throwing petrol bombs at police
during a protest on Friday in the village of Nuwaidrat, near Sitra, south of
the capital Manama, the state news agency BNA reported.

In November, a government-appointed commission of
international jurists found evidence of systematic abuses against detained

The government has promised to implement the report's
recommendations, which the U.S. Congress has linked to its approval of a $53m arms
to Western-allied Manama.

Bahrain has set up a body to implement the recommendations,
including stopping rights abuses and punishing those responsible as well as
retraining police and security forces. But opposition groups have cast doubt on
the authorities' commitment to reform.

On Saturday, the independent daily Al Wasat said on its
website that the head of the body, Ali al-Salih, had handed in his resignation.
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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