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Bahrain Security Forces Enter Shiite Village to Quell Unrest

March 21 (Bloomberg) -- Bahraini security forces pushed into the Shiite village of Karzakan as part of the government’s efforts to quell more than a month of unrest in the Persian Gulf island nation.

About 12 young men were injured yesterday when police fired tear gas and birdshot pellets at them, said Jasim Marzooq, a nurse who witnessed the incursion.

“We treat the wounded in homes, they are afraid of being arrested if they go to hospitals,” Marzooq said in an interview.

Bahrain’s government declared a three-month state of emergency on March 15 after troops from Saudi Arabia and other Arab Gulf states arrived to support the kingdom’s Sunni monarch in suppressing demonstrations. Mainly Shiite protesters started on Feb. 14 demanding democracy and more civil rights.

Bahrain forces drove protesters on March 16 from their rallying point at the Pearl Roundabout in Manama, pushing them back into their villages where they continue demonstrations against the government. Three days later, the army demolished the 300-foot (90-metre) monument on the roundabout. The traffic junction had become the main gathering point for protesters.

The country’s stock exchange fell 1.6 percent to close at 1391.81 in Manama yesterday. Bahrain’s bourse was shut on March 16 for one day after the government declared a state of emergency.

Missing

At least 13 people have been killed in violent clashes since the protests began, according to a statement by the Bahrain Human Rights Society. As many as 63 are missing since the Saudi-led Gulf Cooperation Council forces arrived last week, the society said in a statement.

Nabeel Rajab, the head of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights was detained for two hours and released yesterday, according to a statement from Bahrain Human Rights Society. Four doctors were arrested after treating victims, including Ali al-Ekri, the spokesman for the doctor’s movement, according to the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights.

Bahraini workers, who went on strike last week in response to a police crackdown on anti-government protests, will continue to stay away from work, said Sayed Salman, the general secretary of the Federation of Trade Unions. “The general strike will go on until workers are safe,” he said in an interview today.

The rallies in Bahrain fueled Saudi fears that unrest may spread to their kingdom, which holds about 20 percent of global oil reserves and, like Bahrain, has a Shiite community which complains of discrimination. Bahrain’s Shiites make up about 70 percent of the population and many retain cultural and family ties with Iran as well as with Shiites in Saudi Arabia, who are a minority of about 10 to 15 percent.

Wounded

Bahrain’s government yesterday condemned what it called “blatant Iranian interference” in its internal affairs, state-run Bahrain News Agency reported. The government called upon United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon “to take all necessary measures to put an end to the blatant Iranian interference in its internal affairs,” the report said, citing Bahrain UN ambassador Tawfik Al Mansour.

Bahrain yesterday also ordered Iran’s charge d’affaires to leave the country, Al-Arabiya television reported.

In Karzakan yesterday, one man had pellet wounds over most of his torso and legs after yesterday’s incursion by the police. The town is on the island nation’s west coast. He was lying in a home after receiving some medical treatment for his injuries.

He said the security forces had come in front of the roundabout and started firing. The man declined to be identified out of fear of being arrested.

In the near-by village of Dumistan, a man held a Molotov cocktail and another carried a metal rod yesterday as they walked through the village’s streets. Police had set up a road block on the outskirts of the village, searching cars and checking passengers’ identification.

At about 8 p.m. March 19 in the Shiite village of Daih, on the outskirts of the capital, men, women and children shouted “God is Great” from their roof tops in protest of the government’s crackdown. Bahraini military and security forces patrolled the main roads in armored vehicles to enforce a curfew.

To contact the reporter on this story: Glen Carey in Manama at gcarey8@bloomberg.net;

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net

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