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Bahrain Arrests Leading Internet Activist

Bahraini blogger Mahmoud al-Youssef (file photo)
Bahraini blogger Mahmoud al-Youssef (file photo)

Family members and human rights officials say Bahraini authorities have arrested the country's most prominent Internet activist as part of a crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators.

They say officials took Mahmoud al-Youssef into custody on Wednesday. Al-Youssef has been a vocal critic of the government for its limits on freedom of expression. He has been referred to as the "godfather" of blogging in the Gulf nation.

Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch says Bahraini authorities are harassing demonstrators and bystanders who were wounded in anti-government protests.

The rights group said Wednesday the country's security and military forces have sought out and threatened injured activists who were taken to Bahrain's largest medical facility earlier this month.

On Monday, the Reuters news agency said Bahrain's opposition party claimed 250 people had been detained and 44 others were missing in a government crackdown on protesters.

Bahrain declared a three-month state of emergency on March 15 after troops from Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf states came to help the Sunni monarchy quell Shi'ite-led protests.

On Wednesday, Bahraini opposition leader Ali Salman demanded the withdrawal of the Saudi-led forces. Iran has also condemned the deployment but Salman warned Iran against interfering in Bahrain's internal affairs.

Bahrain's parliament accepted the resignations of key political Shi'ite opposition members on Tuesday, signaling a further divide in the sectarian crisis gripping the island nation.

Bahrain's parliament is the nation's only elected body but holds limited powers. The government is mostly run by the Sunni monarch.

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

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