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March 16, 2011

Bahrain Detains at Least 6 Top Opposition Activists

Opposition members in Bahrain say authorities detained six opposition leaders Thursday, a day after security forces drove pro-democracy protesters out of the capital's main square in a deadly raid.

Shi'ite opposition leader Hassan Mushaima, Wa'ad party leader Ibrahim Sharif and activist Abdul Wahad Hussein are among the detained.  Their charges are currently unknown.

On Wednesday, hospital and opposition sources say at least five people were killed when Bahraini authorities forced out demonstrators who had set up camps in Pearl Square.  The site has been a rallying point for protesters in the capital, Manama.

State of emergency

The government has declared a state of emergency to try to end the uprising. Bahrain state television said Tuesday King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa ordered the commander of the armed forces to take "appropriate measures" to safeguard the nation against protesters whom he accused of "terrorizing" the population.

On Monday, the king gave permission for about 1,000 Saudi soldiers and 500 United Arab Emirates police to protect Bahraini government buildings.

Protesters from Bahrain's majority Shi'ite population have been demanding political reforms from the minority Sunni government.

The ruling al-Khalifa family has offered to hold a dialogue with opposition groups. But some protesters are demanding more power for parliament and that the royal family be ousted.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

 

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