Over 120 hurt in Bahrain clashes, dialogue sought

Wed Feb 15, 2012 5:08pm EST
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By Andrew Hammond

MANAMA (Reuters) - More than 120 protesters have been wounded in clashes with police in Bahrain this week, activists said on Wednesday, in a crackdown to stop majority Shi'ites breaking out of their neighborhoods to stage protests one year after an uprising.

The United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon expressed concern about the clashes, while a senior opposition figure said the government had put out feelers on talks to resolve the crisis in the Gulf Arab state.

Police conducted operations into the night in the flashpoint town of Sitra, seizing 15 teenagers in a raid on one building after a police vehicle was damaged by a petrol bomb earlier, residents said.

The streets were deserted with residents staying indoors as dozens of jeeps sped through the streets in apparent search operations. A policeman inside one vehicle fired a tear gas canister over some buildings before hurtling round a corner.

Opposition activists reported similar operations in numerous other Shi'ite areas of the island including Budaiya as well as Musalla and Sanabis which are on the edge of the capital.

Riot police also used armored personnel carriers that have not been seen on Bahrain's streets since martial law last year.

"The heightened security presence at this time aims to spread security and reassure all citizens and residents... Expressing opinion must be within the space allowed by the law," Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid bin Abdullah Al Khalifa said in comments on the ministry's website.

It gave no information on the number of arrests this week.   Continued...