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article imageProtester killed as police raid Bahrain sit-in: NGO

By AFP     May 23, 2017 in World

A protester was killed Tuesday in a Bahraini police raid on a sit-in by supporters of a leading Shiite cleric put on trial in the Gulf state, a rights group said.

The Britain-based Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy reported the "tragic death of a peaceful protester in the crackdown" in Diraz, the hometown of cleric Isa Qassim.

Eyewitnesses told AFP multiple civilians were wounded when police opened fire at demonstrators throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at security forces.

Police arrested several people wanted by the authorities, the interior ministry said.

Qassim was sentenced on Sunday to a suspended one-year jail term for illegal fundraising and money laundering.

He was also stripped of citizenship last year, sparking the sit-in outside of his residence in Diraz.

The interior ministry said on Tuesday it had "launched a security operation in the village of Diraz to preserve security and civil order as the site is a safe haven for fugitives."

Sunni-ruled Bahrain has been shaken by unrest since security forces crushed Shiite-led protests demanding a constitutional monarchy and an elected prime minister in 2011.

Bahraini authorities have accused Shiite Iran of fomenting unrest in the kingdom. Tehran has consistently denied involvement.

The small Gulf state is a key regional ally of the United States and serves as home for its Fifth Fleet.

US President Donald Trump met with Bahrain's King Hamad in Saudi Arabia at the weekend during his first foreign trip since taking office.

Despite repeated calls from their Western allies, Bahrain's rulers have made no concessions to the Shiite opposition and have intensified a crackdown on critics.

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