Last updated: 25 April, 2012

Bahrain police fire tear gas to disperse protesters

Bahraini riot police fired tear gas to disperse protesters on Tuesday as they approached a square in central Manama where they had been banned from holding demonstrations, witnesses said.

The demonstrators, who broke away from a larger march in the Jidhafs neighbourhood in the west of the city, were unable to reach Pearl Square, epicentre of month-long protests that were crushed last year, the witnesses said.

The police did not stop the larger rally in Jidhafs, where hundreds called for the release of jailed Shiite activist, Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, who has been on hunger strike since February 8.

Khawaja was sentenced to life imprisonment with several other opposition activists for conspiring against the Sunni monarchy ruling Shiite-majority Bahrain.

Tuesday’s protests come a day after police and protesters clashed in a Shiite village following the funeral of 36-year-old Salah Abbas Habib, who was found dead on Saturday.

Habib’s death coincided with the controversial staging of the Formula One Grand Prix in the Gulf kingdom a year after the event was cancelled following the March crackdown.

The Shiite-led opposition used the media presence for the race to intensify protests.