Mar 15 2013
Thousands of anti-government protesters burned tires and threw firebombs and stones at riot police in Bahrain on the second anniversary of the intervention by a Saudi-led force which helped crush a pro-democracy uprising in the Gulf island.
The clashes on Thursday were the worst in several weeks and served a reminder that elements of the opposition have yet to buy into slow-moving talks with government officials.
Police fired stun grenades at the demonstrators during the clashes in the mainly Shia neighbourhoods surrounding the capital, Manama.
Starting early in the morning, the mostly young demonstrators blocked roads leading into scores of Shia villages to prevent security forces from entering.
Bahrain’s Shia majority has been seeking a greater political voice in the Sunni-ruled kingdom, which is home to the US Navy’s 5th Fleet.
The main Shia opposition group, Al Wefaq, said 35 protesters were wounded in the clashes, including three critically, in what it called a “systematic policy carried out under high, official orders to use violence against peaceful pro-democracy protesters”.
It also accused police of using live ammunition and bird shot against some protesters.
“This is an unforgettable day,” said Maki Ali, an 18-year-old demonstrator from Bilad Al Qadeem, west of the capital, Manama.
“I remember well how the Saudis with United Arab Emirates intervened in my country’s internal affairs. They supported the government killing.”