Riot police fire tear gas to disperse Kuwait rally

Fri Mar 11, 2011 11:18am GMT
 

KUWAIT (Reuters) - Kuwait riot police fired tear gas Friday to break up a small, peaceful demonstration by stateless Arabs who were demanding greater rights in the oil-rich Gulf nation.

Police in protective gear advanced on around 200 protesters who had gathered in a district of Kuwait City following morning prayers. They then fired volleys of tear gas at the crowd, sending the group running for cover.

The demonstrations follow protests held by several hundred Kuwaitis Tuesday, who demanded a change of the Gulf state's prime minister and more political freedom.

The stateless Arabs, known as "bedoun," are longtime residents of Kuwait. They clashed with police last month demanding citizenship, free education, free healthcare and jobs -- benefits which are available to Kuwaiti nationals.

This year's uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt have fuelled Arab discontent in the Gulf, which was once thought to be immune to unrest thanks to its enormous oil wealth and often generous welfare system.

Besides Kuwait, protests were also expected Friday in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, while tens of thousands of anti-government demonstrators also took to the streets of the poorest nation in the Arabian Peninsula, Yemen.

(Reporting by Jason Benham; Editing by Crispian Balmer)

 
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