Bahraini security forces have shot dead a 16-year-old Shiite protester in a demonstration in western Manama, the Al-Wefaq opposition group said on Friday.
Ahmed Jaber al-Qatan was hit Thursday night by bird shot used by anti-riot police in the Sunni-ruled kingdom where the Shiite majority led protests that were quashed in mid-March.
“The martyrdom of young Jaber falls under the systematic oppression of those demanding democracy in Bahrain,” said the largest Shiite opposition group.
Thousands of mourners took part on Friday afternoon in the funeral of Qatan in the Shiite village of Shakurah, west of Manama, according to footage posted online by Al-Wefaq.
On Friday, the interior ministry confirmed the death, saying the youth died of a cardiac arrest.
“Doctors were unable to resuscitate the young man and attributed the cause of death to cardiac arrest,” it said. The public prosecution ordered the body transferred to Salmaniya Medical Complex for an autopsy and full investigation.
Another ministry statement later said the coroner of the public prosecution found that the youth had died after being hit by a bird shot, in contrast to the doctors’ report.
The ministry acknowledged police fired tear gas and sound grenades at around 20 youths who had blocked the road in Abu Saiba district on Thursday evening, set fire to garbage bins and attacked security forces when they intervened.
“When police arrived on the scene, they were attacked with Molotov cocktails and rocks. Police responded with tear gas and sound grenades to disperse the crowd,” it said.
Bahraini security forces quelled a month-long protest in mid-March, driving demonstrators out of Manama’s Pearl Square, the focal point of protests inspired by the Arab Spring.
Authorities cracked down on Shiite villages, arrested hundreds, and scores were dismissed from their jobs.
Hundreds are being tried by a special security court, and dozens more have received lengthy jail sentence, while at least five were sentenced to death.
Despite the crackdown, Shiite protesters were soon back on the street, holding regular demonstrations in their villages, and clashing with security forces.
Authorities say 24 people, including four policemen were killed in the month-long unrest.