Bahrain police open fire on Shia sit-in

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Bahrain police on Tuesday opened fire on a long-running sit-in in support of a leading Shia cleric in the Sunni-ruled Gulf state, hit by years of unrest.

Eyewitnesses told AFP there were multiple civilians wounded in the raid targeting the months-long sit-in in Diraz, the hometown of cleric Isa Qassim.

Qassim was sentenced on Sunday to a suspended one-year jail term for illegal fundraising and money laundering.

He was also stripped of citizenship last year, sparking the sit-in outside of his residence in Diraz.

Bahrain’s interior ministry on Tuesday said it had “launched a security operation in the village of Diraz to preserve security and civil order as the site is a safe haven for fugitives.”

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

Bahraini authorities have accused Shiite Iran of fomenting unrest in the kingdom. Tehran has consistently denied involvement.

The small Gulf state is a key regional ally of the United States and serves as home for its Fifth Fleet.

US President Donald Trump met with Bahrain’s King Hamad in Saudi Arabia at the weekend during his first foreign trip since taking office.

Despite repeated calls from their Western allies, Bahrain’s rulers have made no concessions to the Shiite opposition and have intensified a crackdown on critics.

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