Last updated: 22 June, 2012

Bahrain police disperse rally, opposition head hurt

Bahraini security forces on Friday fired rubber bullets to disperse an unauthorised rally by the opposition Al-Wefaq wounding its leader, the Shiite bloc said.

Sheikh Ali Salman was “wounded with rubber bullets in his shoulder and back when security forces fired at a peaceful demonstration held in Bilad al-Qadeem,” three kilometres (two miles) from Manama, it said in a statement.

It said two other leading opposition figures — Al-Wefaq’s Jawad Fairouz and Hasan al-Marzouq — were also wounded.

“Security forces besieged the area, chased citizens and repressed them brutally, beating them up and firing live rounds at them,” it added.

Witnesses told AFP that security forces used tear gas, sound bombs, rubber bullets and birdshot to disperse the rally, adding that several people were wounded in the crackdown.

The interior ministry had announced late Thursday it had “turned down a request submitted by Al-Wefaq… to stage a rally” in the area, state news agency BNA reported.

“Holding the rally in such a vital location would disrupt security and compromise people’s interests,” BNA quoted public security chief Major-General Tariq al-Hassan as saying.

Those participating in Friday’s “illegal rally would be held accountable.”

Sporadic and small protests have intensified in villages around the capital since a crackdown in March 2011 ended month-long Shiite-led protests in Manama’s main Pearl Square.

Amnesty says 60 people have been killed since the protests erupted in February 2011 in the Gulf kingdom ruled by the Sunni Al-Khalifa dynasty.