Protester killed in Bahrain "Day of Rage" - witnesses

Mon Feb 14, 2011 7:07pm GMT

By Frederik Richter

MANAMA (Reuters) - Police in Bahrain fired teargas and rubber bullets to break up pro-reform demonstrations on Monday and one protester was killed, witnesses said, in a "Day of Rage" stimulated by popular upheaval in Egypt and Tunisia.

Helicopters circled over the Gulf Arab state's capital Manama, where protesters had been due to gather but which remained quiet as security forces patrolled Shi'ite areas. More than 20 people were hurt, one of them critically, in clashes in Shi'ite villages that ring the capital, witnesses said.

Bahrain, where a Sunni Muslim family rules over a Shi'ite majority, offered cash payouts in the run-up to the protest, a move apparently designed to prevent Shi'ite discontent from boiling over as "people power" revolts spread in the Arab world.

Two witnesses at a Manama hospital said a 22-year-old protester from Daih village died from bullet wounds in his back, and another was in critical condition with a fractured skull.

In the village of Diraz, authorities dispersed with teargas about 100 Shi'ite protesters who had squared off with police, demanding more political rights. Another 10 were injured in Nuweidrat by police firing teargas and rubber bullets at protesters calling for the release of Shi'ite detainees.

"There were 2,000 sitting in the street voicing their demands when police started firing," 24-year-old Kamel said.

"We don't want to overthrow the ruling family, we just want to have our say," said Ali Jassem, married to a daughter of Sheikh Issa Qassem, a powerful Shi'ite cleric.

Diplomats say Bahrain's demonstrations, organised on Facebook and Twitter, would gauge whether a larger base of Shi'ites can be drawn to the streets.   Continued...

<p>Bahrain youths demonstrate in front of the police in Manama, February 14, 2011. S REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed</p>
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