Bahrain briefly detains human rights activist

MANAMA Sun Mar 20, 2011 7:32am EDT

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MANAMA (Reuters) - Bahraini security forces briefly detained the outspoken head of the country's main human rights group on Sunday, days after a crackdown that drove mainly Shi'ite protesters off the streets.

"At around 1:30 a.m., around 25 thugs wearing civilian clothes came inside the house and were running from room to room, while around 20 more in security forces' uniforms waited outside," Nabeel Rajab told Reuters by telephone.

Rajab had spoken to media about the crackdown and the Bahrain Center for Human Rights put out statements this week accusing Bahraini forces and their Saudi and Emirati allies of "massacres."

Rajab said he was blindfolded and handcuffed and put into the back of a car.

"They beat me and threatened to rape me and they kicked me when I refused to say I love the prime minister," he said.

Four protesters and three police have been confirmed killed during unrest last Wednesday. Members of Bahrain's largest Shi'ite opposition party Wefaq said on Sunday they believed over 100 people had been arrested, though Reuters could not verify the estimate.

Among recent arrests are those of opposition leaders who had called for the overthrow of the monarchy and doctors who had complained of excessive use of force against protesters.

Rajab said he was driven around for more than an hour before being taken to an investigator who questioned him for five minutes. Rajab was sent around 4 a.m.

"I asked, 'Why did you beat me and wreck my house just for those simple questions?' But the investigator said he never authorized anything like that," Rajab said.

(Reporting by Frederik Richter and Erika Solomon; editing by Andrew Roche)

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