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Bahrain sends warning to protesters after five shot dead

Five protesters were killed by security forces on Tuesday [Getty]

Date of publication: 24 May, 2017

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Bahrain warned people against holding protests on Wednesday, a day after police shot dead five demonstrators in the home village of the spiritual leader of the kingdom's Shia majority.
Bahrain issued a stern warning to those holding protests on Wednesday, a day after police shot dead five demonstrators in the home village of the spiritual leader of the kingdom's Shia majority.

Authorities said security forces would "challenge, in accordance with the law, any gathering or incitement" to protest, the interior ministry said in a statement.

Police arrested 286 "wanted persons", including at least 11 prison escapees, the ministry said, adding the sit-in had become a refuge for "wanted persons and fugitives".

On Tuesday, five protesters were killed and dozens more were wounded after police opened fire on a demonstration in Diraz, the scene of a long-running sit-in outside the home of cleric Isa Qassim.

The ministry identified four of the five protesters killed in Wednesday's statement, and confirmed 31 members of the security forces were wounded.

Witnesses had said several civilians were wounded when police officers fired at demonstrators throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at security forces.

A US State Department official said Washington was "concerned" by the reports of protesters killed and was following events in Bahrain very closely.

"We urge restraint on all sides in responding to today's developments and call on all parties to contribute to a climate conducive for dialogue and reconciliation," the official told AFP.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia defended the actions of Bahraini authorities, stating the security of Bahrain "is an integral part" of Saudi security, the kingdom’s official news agency said, quoting a source in Riyadh's foreign ministry.

"The source affirmed the support of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the measures being taken", including in Diraz village near the capital Manama, it said.

These measures are to "address all terrorist attempts aimed at destabilising and damaging" security and order, it added.

Authorities in the Sunni-ruled kingdom accuse Qassim, who was sentenced on Sunday to a suspended one-year jail term for illegal fundraising and money laundering, of serving "foreign interests" and promoting "sectarianism and violence".

Last year, a court stripped the cleric of his citizenship, sparking repeated sit-ins outside his residence in Diraz.

Bahrain has also accused Iran of fomenting unrest in the kingdom, ruled for more than two centuries by the Sunni Al-Khalifa dynasty - an allegation Tehran vehemently denies.

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