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Thursday, February 14, 2013

Teenager Killed as Bahrain Marks Protest Anniversary

Video posted on YouTube by activists in Bahrain showed a man confronting riot police officers after a young protester was shot and killed in the village of Al Daih on Thursday.

A Bahraini teenager was shot and killed during clashes with the kingdom’s security forces on Thursday, as protesters marked the second anniversary of the start of their movement calling for reforms on the Arab island.

Both rights activists and the interior ministry reported the young man’s death in the village of Al Daih, outside Manama, the capital. The Bahrain Center for Human Rights posted an image of a death certificate online that said Hussein Ali Ahmed, 16, was killed at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday by gunshot.

Death certificate of Hussain Ali (16) shot dead with police gunshot this morning from a very close range http://t.co/n9sha1JV #bahrain

â€" Bahrain Human Rights (@BahrainRights) 14 Feb 13

The rights group also added the young man’s name to a list of 88 fatalities since the protest movement began two year ago. According to the center, whose founder and current president have both been jailed for their part in the protest movement, 88 people have died since Feb. 14, 2011, including three police officers.

After the young man was shot, local activists uploaded graphic video and distressing photographs of the frantic attempts to save his life, despite a gaping wound in his chest.

One image posted online later was said to show the dead boy’s blood on a man’s shirt.

In another, a woman pushed a shopping cart filled with spent tear gas canisters fired at protesters during the clashes in the village.

Maj. Gen. Tariq Hassan Al Hassan, Bahrain’s chief of public securit! y, acknow! ledged the death of a “rioter” in a statement that blamed protesters for “several incidents of violent attacks on police officers, attacks on citizens, destruction of property and blocking of roads.”

The police chief’s statement also defended the actions of his officers as necessary since the presence of protesters on the roads of the kingdom impeded the flow of traffic.

Police responded to restore order and clear roads. Traffic flowed freely in the vast majority of areas throughout the day.

When necessary, the police employed proportionate force to disperse violent crowds. Most incidents involved small groups of rioters who were quickly dispersed before they could amass into larger groups. During some of these dispersals, several police officers were injured. Some were injured severely and required hospital care.

The most violent group amassed at around 8 a.m. in the village of Daih, where 300 rioters assembled to attack police, who were deployed in the area, with rocks, steel rods and Molotov cocktails. Warning shots were fired but failed to disperse the advancing crowd who continued their attack. Officers! discharg! ed birdshot to defend themselves. At least one rioter was injured in the process. A short time later, a young man was pronounced dead at Salmaniya Medical Center.

The statement said that the death would be investigated and conveyed the police chief’s condolences to the family, while adding that he had “advised young men to avoid taking part in violent street activities and riots,” the day before.

International human rights groups have criticized Bahrain’s use of force in its crackdown on dissent.

Ahmed Al-haddad, who handles international relations for the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, posted an image on Twitter of what he said was an Italian-made shotgun used by the security forces to fire at demonstrators.

Thirteen of the country’s most prominent dissidents remain in jail after being convicted by a military tribunal of trying to overthrow the government. As our colleague Kareem Fahim reported last month, a court upheld their sentences of between five years and life in prison for their leadership roles in the protest movement.

The protests and clashes before and after the fatal shooting in Al Daih were extensively documented in photographs and video posted online by activist bloggers. In several photographs, protesters could be seen holding u! p camerap! hones as they marched.

Mazen Mahdi, a Bahraini photojournalist, wrote on Twitter that he and other photographers were briefly detained while covering the protests.

Video posted online by activists later on Thursday showed the street fighting between rock-throwing protesters and officers who fired tear gas, shotgun pellets and stun grenades. Another raw clip shwed a tense confrontation after the fatal shooting between an emotional man and riot police officers.

Activists posted more video online late Thursday that appeared to show the protesters regrouped on the streets after dark and chanted, “The People Want to Topple the Regime!”

Video posted online! by activ! ists in Bahrain appeared to show protesters on the streets of Al Daih on Thursday night.

Clashes south of the capital, in Sitra and Nuwaidrat, were also documented on video by activists calling themselves the Media Center for the Revolution in Bahrain (who add titles to their clips and what seems to be introductory music copied from videos posted online by The Associated Press).

In the video from Sitra, a police vehicle appeared to catch fire after protesters hurled Molotov cocktails at it.

The group’s footage of a clash in Nuwaidrat showed small numbers of protesters and the security forces facing off across flaming barricades

The monarchy’s police force continued its aggressive use of social media to combat perceptions that its use of violence in response to protests is disproportionate. The official interior ministry Twitter feed on Thursday featured two video clip uploaded to a police YouTube account on Thursday of “thugs” hurling Molotov cocktails at officers. One of the clips was recorded last week, the police said, the second was undated.

Video of thugs hurling Molotov cocktails in Bani Jamra (recorded by thugs) http://t.co/CoXLOxuX …

â€" Ministry of Interior (@moi_bahrain) 14 Feb 13

The police did not explain why these previously recorded video clips were not posted on YouTube until the day of the protest movement’s anniversary and did not immediately reply to a request for comment from The Lede.

Follow Christine Hauser on Twitter @christineNYT.

Robert Mackey also remixes the news on Twitter @robertmackey.