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Security forces fire at protesters, 23 hit

Bahraini security forces shot at protesters near Pearl Square today and wounded at least 23, a former Shi'ite lawmaker said, a day after police forcibly cleared a protest camp from the traffic circle in Manama.

world Updated: Feb 18, 2011 22:10 IST

Bahraini security forces shot at protesters near Pearl Square on Friday and wounded at least 23, a former Shi'ite lawmaker said, a day after police forcibly cleared a protest camp from the traffic circle in Manama.

"We think it was the army," said Sayed Hadi, of the Wefaq bloc that resigned from parliament on Thursday.

Another Wefaq MP, Jalal Firooz, said demonstrators had been elsewhere, marking the death of a protester killed earlier this week when riot police fired tear gas at them.

The demonstrators then made for Pearl Square, where army troops who took it over after Thursday's police raid opened fire, Firooz said. Police had no immediate comment.

Lebanon's Hezbollah-run al-Manar television quoted a doctor at Salmaniya hospital in Manama as saying 25 wounded had been admitted, two of them with serious wounds.

"This is a peaceful protest," the doctor, Mahmoud Abbas, told al-Manar.

"How can it be confronted with bullets? There is a humanitarian disaster. We cannot handle this."

Witnesses said about 20 police cars had driven toward the square after the initial shooting.

Four people were killed and 231 wounded when riot police raided the protest camp in the early hours of Thursday, when most of the demonstrators were sleeping.

Soldiers in tanks and armoured vehicles later took control of the square, which mainly Shi'ite protesters had hoped to use as a base similar to Cairo's Tahrir Square, the heart of protests that toppled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Feb 11.