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Regime forces attack top cleric’s supporters in NW Bahrain

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Bahraini demonstrators attend a protest against the revocation of the citizenship of top Bahraini Shia cleric Sheikh Isa Qassim near his house in the village of Diraz, west of the capital Manama, on June 20, 2016. ©AFP

Bahraini demonstrators attend a protest against the revocation of the citizenship of top Bahraini Shia cleric Sheikh Isa Qassim near his house in the village of Diraz, west of the capital Manama, on June 20, 2016. ©AFP

Bahraini regime forces have fired birdshots and tear gas to disperse dozens of demonstrators, who had taken to the streets in the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom to express solidarity with prominent Shia Muslim cleric, Sheikh Isa Qassim, who was stripped of his citizenship by the Al Khalifah regime earlier this week.

On Thursday evening, protesters gathered outside the home of the 79-year-old spiritual leader of Bahrain’s main opposition bloc, the al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, in the northwestern village of Diraz, situated about 12 kilometers (seven miles) west of the capital Manama, to express their outrage at the measure against the top clergyman.

They chanted slogans in support of Sheikh Qassim and in condemnation of the ruling dynasty.

Clashes broke out when regime forces intervened, firing shots and using tear gas to disperse the crowd. The protesters responded by throwing petrol bombs at police vehicles.

The development came a day after similar demonstrations were held in Bilad al-Qadim, a suburb of the capital.

The Al Khalifah regime’s June 20 move against Sheikh Qassim came less than a week after Bahrain’s Justice Ministry suspended al-Wefaq and dissolved opposition Islamic Enlightenment Institution and al-Risala Islamic Association.

Since February 14, 2011, thousands of anti-regime protesters have held numerous demonstrations on an almost daily basis in Bahrain, calling for the Al Khalifah family to relinquish power.

In March that year, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were deployed to the country to assist the Bahraini government in its crackdown on peaceful protests.

Scores of people have been killed and hundreds of others injured or arrested in the Bahraini crackdown on the anti-regime activists.

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