Last updated: 18 March, 2012

Bahrain security forces clash with youths, witnesses said

Bahraini security forces clashed with youths on Sunday after the funeral of a protester who allegedly died after inhaling tear gas fired by riot police, witnesses said.

The clashes erupted in the Shiite village of Al-Muqsha, north of the capital Manama, following the funeral of Jaafer Jassem Ridha, 41.

The main Shiite opposition group Al-Wefaq said Ridha died after inhaling tear gas fired at a recent demonstration that was violently dispersed by riot police.

Al-Wefaq also said on Sunday that another Bahraini, 27-year-old Sabri Mahfud, had died after inhaling tear gas, without elaborating on the circumstances or date of the incident.

The interior ministry said on Twitter that a group of people “provoked acts of violence and barricaded the streets” after Ridha’s burial, adding that necessary “lawful measures” were taken to contain the situation, without saying what these were.

The ministry also announced on Sunday the opening of a probe into claims that a policeman had thrown a petrol bomb, as a video posted online appeared to show.

The inquiry could lead to disciplinary measures against the suspect, a senior ministry official said in a statement received by AFP.

Bahrain’s riot police often fire tear gas against demonstrators in the tiny Gulf kingdom, where the Shiite-led opposition is calling for constitutional changes that would reduce the power of the ruling minority Sunni dynasty.

Tensions have remained high since a deadly crackdown last year after a month of Manama street protests.

According to an independent probe, 35 people were killed in last year’s unrest, including five security personnel and five detainees tortured to death while in custody.