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Crackdown at dawn: Bahrain police target dissident cleric's supporters

Protesters have been staging sit-ins since authorities revoked Qassim's citizenship in June [AFP]

Date of publication: 26 January, 2017

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One man was wounded in Bahrain on Thursday when police clashed with protesters near the home of a prominent Shia cleric on trial over "serving foreign interests".

Security forces in Bahrain carried out a dawn raid on Thursday against supporters of a Shia cleric on trial in the Sunni-ruled kingdom during which one man was shot and wounded, witnesses said.

Security forces intervened in the village of Diraz, west of the capital, where protesters have been staging sit-ins since authorities revoked Sheikh Isa Qassim's citizenship in June.

He is accused of sowing sectarian divisions in the Shia-majority Gulf archipelago, home to the US Fifth Fleet.

A 21-year-old man was hospitalised with a bullet wound to his head after the raid, human rights campaigners said quoting a medical source.

Dozens of residents in Diraz later staged a protest chanting slogans hostile to the authorities, witnesses said.

The trial of the 75-year-old cleric on charges of illegal fundraising and money laundering opened in July. A new hearing is scheduled for Monday. 

Qassim has also been accused by the interior ministry of "serving foreign interests" - an allusion to Shia-dominated Iran.

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

The head of the Shia opposition, Sheikh Ali Salman, was arrested in December 2014 and sentenced to nine years in prison after being convicted of inciting hatred.

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