Riot police officers in Bahrain killed a teenager with birdshot on Friday during clashes with protesters after a legal demonstration, the police confirmed on Saturday. He was the second young protester to die in six weeks.
Thousands rallied on Friday in an officially authorized protest called by the main opposition group, Al Wefaq, but as the event ended, around 100 demonstrators clashed with police officers, witnesses said.
Al Wefaq identified the dead protester as Ali Hussain Nima, 17, and distributed photographs showing a body covered in blood and flecked with birdshot wounds. The authenticity of the pictures could not be verified. The officers used tear gas and stun grenades to disperse the demonstrators, who, the authorities said, were throwing gas bombs and wielding iron bars.
The police described the clashes as a “terrorist attack” on a security patrol. The officers defended themselves “according to their legal authority,” a police statement said.
Bahrain, headquarters of the United States Navy’s Fifth Fleet, has been in turmoil since its Shiite Muslim majority started mass demonstrations at the height of Arab Spring unrest last year. The protests were quashed by the Sunni monarchy, which imposed martial law and invited Saudi Arabia to send troops in support.
In mid-August, a 16-year-old protester was killed when police officers fired birdshot during clashes after a demonstration, opposition activists said.
The opposition says more than 45 people have been killed in protests since martial law was lifted in June 2011. The Interior Ministry says that protesters have injured more than 700 police officers and that the authorities have exercised restraint.