Omani police release 57 protesters

Oman has been caught up in the general upheaval in the Arab world.

Updated: Apr 03, 2011, 14:27 PM IST

Muscat: Omani police have released 57 people arrested in a crackdown on protests in the northern industrial city of Sohar, a day after a protester was shot dead, ONA state news agency reported.

The public prosecutor announced it had concluded questioning those arrested on Tuesday, when security forces stormed the Earth roundabout in Sohar, the scene of protest sit-ins since February 27.

"The public prosecutor has decided to release 57 persons after they have been questioned," a statement carried by ONA said, without disclosing the number of those remaining in custody.

The prosecutor also said "legal procedures will be followed concerning the events on Friday”, acknowledging that a civilian had died "after being critically wounded".

It was the second death in the port during the current wave of unrest sweeping across the region, after police killed a protester at the end of February in Sohar, an industrial area some 200 kilometres (125 miles) north of the capital Muscat, particularly badly hit by unemployment.

Police tried to disperse a crowd of protestors who were hurling stones at them, demanding the release of prisoners.

The normally peaceful sultanate has been caught up in the general upheaval and protest movement in the Arab world, with people taking to the streets to call for better living conditions, forcing ruler Sultan Qaboos to bow to pressure and announce a cabinet reshuffle and the creation of 50,000 jobs at the start of March.

But demonstrators in Oman have insisted that their protest was aimed at "corrupt" officials, not at Qaboos himself, who has ruled the sultanate for 40 years.

Bureau Report