Bahrain tensions grow amid stronger protest calls
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Last Updated: Thursday, September 01, 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 01, 2011, 18:20

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