A Bahraini Shiite waving a national flag in central Manama in 2011
A Bahraini Shiite waving a national flag in central Manama in 2011. Security forces in Bahrain used tear gas on Sunday against hundreds of protesters trying to approach Manama's former Pearl Square, the focal point of a month of Shiite-led protests last year, witnesses told AFP. © Joseph Eid - AFP/File
A Bahraini Shiite waving a national flag in central Manama in 2011
AFP
Last updated: February 14, 2012

Bahrain tear-gases protesters ahead of anniversary

Security forces in Bahrain used tear gas on Sunday against hundreds of protesters trying to approach Manama's former Pearl Square, the focal point of a month of Shiite-led protests last year, witnesses told AFP.

Several small groups of demonstrators numbering several hundred people tried to march from Shiite neighbourhoods around the capital to the square ahead of Tuesday's first anniversary of the outbreak of the 2011 protests.

But the witnesses said police used tear gas and sound grenades against the protesters, who were chanting slogans demanding reform, and prevented them from reaching the square.

It was not immediately known if there were any casualties.

Security personnel had deployed in force on Sunday after calls by the opposition and activists for protests marking the anniversary, activists and witnesses said.

Activists had called for demonstrations on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday towards Pearl Square, epicentre of the protest that erupted on February 14 last year and was crushed a month later, said Mohammed Maskati, head of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights.

Witnesses reported a heavy security presence at main junctions in Manama from Sunday morning, especially at the Al-Farook interchange that was built on Pearl Square, which was razed a day after the protest was crushed.

Several checkpoints were set up and caused traffic jams, especially around the afternoon rush hour, they added.

Last year's crackdown by the Sunni-ruled nation led to the deaths of 35 people, including five security personnel and five detainees who were tortured to death, an independent commission of inquiry appointed by King Hamad found.

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