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Bahrain tensions grow amid stronger protest calls

Last Updated: Thursday, September 1, 2011 - 18:20

Dubai: It`s become a nightly duel in Bahrain:
Security forces and anti-government protesters waging
hit-and-run clashes in one of the simmering conflicts of the
Arab Spring.

So far, the skirmishes have failed to get into another
serious challenge to the Gulf nation`s Western-backed monarchy
after crushing a reform rebellion months ago. But there are
sudden signs that Shiite-led demonstrators could be poised to
raise the stakes again on the strategic island, which is home
to the US Navy`s 5th Fleet.

Hundreds of demonstrators yesterday made their boldest
attempt in months to reclaim control of a central square in
the capital Manama, which was the symbolic hub of the protest
movement after it began in February. Riot police used buses to
block roads and flooded streets with tear gas to drive back
the marchers before dawn.

Hours later, mourners gathered in a Shiite village in
another part of Bahrain for a 14-year-old boy they claim was
killed by security forces. Clashes flared until early Thursday
across the oil hub area of Sitra.

"Don`t give up," chanted some of the men. "More
protests." Bahrain remains the outlier of the Arab revolts.

Its Sunni rulers have managed to hold their ground and
even tighten their grip with military help from neighbouring
Saudi Arabia against majority Shiites demanding a greater
political voice. Washington and Western allies have denounced
the punishing crackdowns, but been mild when it comes to
Bahrain`s ruling dynasty.


First Published: Thursday, September 1, 2011 - 18:20
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