DUBAI (AFP) – Bahraini police fired tear gas to disperse hundreds of Shiite protesters who took to the streets Saturday on the fourth anniversary of an uprising that deeply divided the key US ally.
Police deployed heavily as men and women carrying Bahrain’s red and white flag alongside portraits of detained activists chanted “Down Hamad”, in reference to the Sunni king, witnesses said.
They fired tear gas and sound bombs and beefed up security around several villages and along major roads across the country, the witnesses said, without reporting any casualties.
The security measures were aimed at preventing the demonstrators from advancing towards the centre of the capital Manama, where the 2011 uprising was focussed.
Protesters burned tyres and used rocks, garbage containers and branches to block roads in the villages.
The radical February 14 Coalition, a cyber youth group, had urged demonstrations and strikes across the kingdom under the slogan “Strike of Defiance”. But the public security chief, Major-General Tariq al-Hassan, had issued a stern warning ahead of the protests.
“Action will be taken against those who spread terror among citizens or residents, put the safety of others at risk or try to disrupt the nation’s security and stability,” Hassan said.