Thousands stage Bahrain protest ahead of F1

Manama: Thousands of people staged a protest in a Shiite village near Manama on Saturday on the eve of Bahrain`s Formula One Grand Prix and after the killing of a demonstrator overnight, an activist said.

In response to opposition calls, demonstrators gathered at Darraz 10 kilometres north of the race`s Sakhir circuit and chanted slogans against the ruling Sunni regime in the Shiite-majority Gulf kingdom.

"No concessions!" they shouted before dispersing peacefully, the activist said. He added that a planned march towards the circuit for tomorrow`s race did not go ahead because of a heavy security deployment.

The protest followed sporadic demonstrations in several Shiite villages around the capital in which anti-riot police used tear gas and sound bombs to disperse protesters, residents said.

Bahrain`s main opposition group, Al-Wefaq, earlier reported the first death in protests timed to coincide with the Grand Prix.

The body of Salah Abbas Habib, 36, was found in Shakhura village, where security forces last night "attacked peaceful protesters, brutally beating some of them with various tools and weapons," Al-Wefaq said.

An interior ministry statement said an investigation was under way into his death, which was being treated as murder.

Shiite-led protests have intensified in Bahrain, site of a deadly month-long uprising that was crushed last year, since the kingdom`s rulers insisted on going ahead with the race.

The February 14 Youth Movement called on social networking sites for "three days of rage" coinciding with the Grand Prix.


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