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Bahraini protesters, police clash after man's funeral

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • Clashes continue into Saturday
  • They come during the funeral of Seyyed Jawad Ahmed Hashim Marhoon
  • Relatives: He developed difficulty in breathing after a tear gas attack at home

Manama, Bahrain (CNN) -- Clashes between protesters and police extended into a second day in Bahrain on Saturday, following the burial of a man who died in questionable circumstances this week.

Tens of thousands marched chanting anti-regime slogans in the funeral procession of Seyyed Jawad Ahmed Hashim Marhoon in Sitra, southwest of the capital, Manama.

Shortly after the burial, scores of mourners clashed with police.

The Bahrain Ministry of Interior said it dealt with a group of vandals who blocked streets following the funeral march.

Clashes broke out late Thursday and early Friday, ahead of Marhoon's funeral. Many of the same areas saw renewed clashes following the funeral.

Violence was reported in most Shiite villages across the small Gulf island, including some on the outskirts of Manama, where anti-riot police moved in.

Thick clouds of tear gas, rubber pellets and stones covered many of the streets as police clashed with angry protesters.

Parts of the capital also saw limited clashes, but the heaviest were in Sitra.

Marhoon died in a hospital after being admitted to the intensive care upon arrival.

Relatives say he developed difficulty in breathing after tear gas was fired at his father's home on September 10, but the family fearing arrest and reprisal opted not to seek medical care until later.

In May, a report by Doctors Without Borders entitled "From hospitals to prisons" said medical staff in Bahrain had been unfairly targeted by government forces.

Injured protesters have been arrested at hospitals, according to the report.

The Ministry of Health said the death was the result of complications from sickle cell anemia. The family refutes the cause of death and say their son was never diagnosed nor showed symptoms of the illness.

Bahraini authorities had in recent months blamed the disease for several deaths of pro-reform detainees in their custody.

Late last month, Ali Jawad al-Sheikh, 14, who is related to Marhoon, also died in the same area in questionable circumstances.

Relatives claim that al-Sheikh was shot at close range by police during a morning protest with a tear-gas round.

In both instances, the authorities deny that there was police activity in the area at the time of the incidents, but they continue to investigate al-Sheikh case as "suspicious".

According to opposition activists, 40 people have been killed and several others arrested since the pro-reforms protests began on February 14, ten of whom hail from Sitra.

Among those arrested was Mustafa Al Moamen, who was detained Friday along with his cousin, Redha AlQumaish, during the funeral procession, according to a non-governmental organization called the Bahrain Center for Human Rights.

Seventeen year-old Hussain Mayouf was also arrested Friday night and feared beaten on Nabih Saleh, an Bahraini island in Persian Gulf, after he was taken to a prison hospital, the group says.

An independent commission investigating alleged human rights violations says that at least 33 had been killed since February.

Bahraini opposition has come out in support. Al Wefaq, the country's leading Shiite opposition group, called off a planned rally and urged supporters to take part in the funeral procession instead.

Protests demanding political reform and greater freedoms in Sunni-ruled, Shiite majority Bahrain began on February 14.

Bahrain is home to the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet.