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Bahrain security forces fire tear gas on protest

Feb 18, 2011 10:30:00 AM - thestate.com
Soldiers fired tear gas and shot heavy weapons into the air as thousands of protest marchers defied a government ban and streamed toward the landmark square that had been the symbolic center of the uprising against the Gulf nation's leaders.

Hospital officials said at least 20 people were injured, some seriously. Ambulance sirens were heard throughout central Manama a day after riot police swept through the protest encampment in Pearl Square, killing at least five people.

An Associated Press cameraman saw army units shooting anti-aircraft weapons above the protesters in apparent warning shots and attempts to drive them back from security cordons about 200 yards (200 meters) from the square.

The clash came just hours after funeral mourners and worshippers at Friday prayers called for the toppling of the Western-allied monarchy in the tiny island nation that is home to the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet.

The cries against the king and his inner circle - at a main Shiite mosque and at burials for those killed in Thursday's crushing attack - reflect an important escalation of the political uprising, which began with calls to weaken the Sunni monarchy's power and address claims of discrimination against the Shiite majority in the tiny island nation.

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