Bahraini woman dies of gunshot wound: opposition

MANAMA Tue Mar 22, 2011 5:27am EDT

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MANAMA (Reuters) - A Bahraini woman has died after suffering gunshot wounds to the head and disappearing the day security forces launched a crackdown against protesters, the main Shi'ite Muslim opposition group Wefaq said on Tuesday.

Wefaq said the funeral of Bahiya al-Aradi would be held later on Tuesday.

Wefaq said the exact circumstances of how she came to be shot were not clear, but she had apparently been driving her car in the west of the capital Manama.

Officials were not immediately available for comment.

Aradi's death brings to seven the number of Bahraini civilians confirmed to have been killed since Wednesday's crackdown. Four police were also killed last week and local newspapers say two foreign workers, an Indian and a Bangladeshi, also died as sectarian clashes spread in recent weeks.

That brings to 20 the total number of deaths since the start of protests more than a month ago.

Bahrain forces ended on Wednesday an uprising by mostly Shi'ite protestors that had prompted the king to impose martial law and call in troops from fellow Sunni-ruled neighbors.

The ferocity of the crackdown, in which forces fanned out across Bahrain, imposed a curfew and banned all public gatherings and marches, has stunned Bahrain's majority Shi'ites.

Wefaq says almost 100 people remain missing, and believe they have either been arrested, hospitalized or killed or are hiding from security forces.

Bahraini authorities have not given an official death toll but the interior ministry said on Monday it would launch a criminal investigation into the death of Abdulrusul Hajairi, whose body was found dumped on a walking trail this week.

It also said in a statement that all makeshift checkpoints, set up by vigilantes to guard their neighborhoods as sectarian tensions mounted in recent weeks, had been removed and that normal services had resumed at the country's busiest hospital.

Bahraini security forces raided Salmaniya hospital on Wednesday and removed a handful of tents that opposition activists had set up in the car park. Some doctors said they were too scared to go to work after security forces arrested at least four medical workers and surrounded the hospital with tanks and troops who checked identity cards and searched cars.

"At Salmaniya Medical Complex... full medical services have resumed following the security operation to safeguard the hospital, with access now unimpeded to all citizens and residents," the interior ministry statement said.

(Reporting by Lin Noueihed; Editing by Matthew Jones)

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