Protester shot dead as clashes intensify in Bahrain (Lead)

February 15th, 2011 - 5:13 pm ICT by IANS  

Manama, Feb 15 (IANS) At least one protester was shot dead and several injured Tuesday after police opened fire at crowds who had gathered in this Bahrain capital for the funeral of a man who had died after being grievously wounded in bloody clashes a day earlier.Fadhel Ali Almatrook was shot by riot police Tuesday morning while he was walking along with other protesters from the hospital to the cemetery, said Maryam Alkhawaja, head of foreign relations at the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights.

“Thousands of people are marching in the streets, demanding the removal of the regime - police fired teargas and bird shot, using excessive force - that is why people got hurt,” Alkhawaja was quoted as saying by Al Jazeera.

Iran’s Press TV, however, said that two protesters were killed in police firing outside the hospital where the body of the demonstrator was kept.

The interior ministry said the demonstrator, who was badly hurt Monday, died Tuesday and it would open an investigation into the man’s death, Xinhua reported.

While tension rose in capital Manama, fierce clashes erupted between protesters and policemen in two Shiite-majority villages of Darraz and Sanabis, west of Manama.

On Monday, at least 14 people in Diya village were injured in clashes, which the opposition described as the “Day of Wrath”.

Protesters have now called for a “Day of Rage” Friday, inspired by anti-government uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia.

Tunisia saw a month-long mass unrest which toppled the 23-year rule of president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali Jan 14. Barely a few days later on Jan 25, protests erupted in Egypt with tens of thousands of demonstrators seeking president Hosni Mubarak’s ouster. Mubarak quit Feb 11.

The mass movements in Tunisia and Egypt have had a domino effect with protests taking place in Algeria, Jordan, Syria and Iran.

Nabeel Rajab of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights said: “We are only asking for political reforms, right of political participation, respect for human rights and stropping of systematic discrimination against Shias.”

Bahrain, the smallest state in the Gulf region, is home to the US Navy’s 5th Fleet.

Bahraini King Hamad Bin Isa al-Khalifa Tuesday called up the head of Egypt’s ruling military council and expressed hope that the situation would improve.

Hamad called Egypt’s Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi, the head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces that will run Egypt for six months, and also the defence minister, and hoped Egypt would restore its leading role in the Arab and Muslim world, according to local daily Al-Ayam.

Hamad had earlier proposed to hold an Arab meeting to discuss the future of the Middle East.

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