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Clashes in Bahrain as police block protest march

DUBAI (Reuters) - Protesters trying to march to the heart of Bahrain's capital clashed with riot police on Friday, witnesses said, hours after a massive show of force by the mainstream Shi'ite Muslim opposition. They said dozens of youths threw stones at police who used teargas and stun grenades to block the planned march to the Pearl roundabout, the centre of an uprising last year which the government suppressed with the help of troops from neighbours, including Saudi Arabia.

by FP Staff 28 Apr 04:30 am IST

     

DUBAI (Reuters) - Protesters trying to march to the heart of Bahrain's capital clashed with riot police on Friday, witnesses said, hours after a massive show of force by the mainstream Shi'ite Muslim opposition.

They said dozens of youths threw stones at police who used teargas and stun grenades to block the planned march to the Pearl roundabout, the centre of an uprising last year which the government suppressed with the help of troops from neighbours, including Saudi Arabia.There were no immediate reports of casualties.Bahrain, where the Sunni Muslim Al Khalifa family rules over a majority Shi'ite Muslim population, has been in turmoil since an uprising erupted last year demanding reforms after successful revolts in Egypt and Tunisia.The protests escalated ahead of last week's Formula One Grand Prix, drawing criticism of Bahrain from some governments, rights groups and media watchdogs who say police use excessive force and the government should find a political solution.Earlier on Friday, tens of thousands of people attended a rally in nearby Jidhafs, a village west of the capital Manama, called by the main Shi'ite opposition group Wefaq.The demonstration was peaceful, with protesters demanding the release of opposition leader, Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, who has been on hunger strike for more than two months, and the dismissal of the prime minister who has held his post for more than four decades.In a rare interview, Prime Minister Sheikh Kalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa said his departure would not resolve the conflict."Believe me, if my position alone were the reason for the unrest, then I would have already stepped down from my office last year. But this is just a further excuse from the opposition," Sheikh Khalifa told Der Spiegel, according to the German weekly's website."I am very proud of Bahrain's achievements and the role I have played in realising them," he said."The opposition is only looking for excuses, abusing demands for 'more....
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