* Opposition say police used live fire, birdshot
* Government says proportional force used to restore order
* Violence follows death of two protesters last month
By Sami Aboudi
DUBAI, March 14 At least 10 civilians and
several policemen were injured in Bahrain on Thursday, an
opposition group and the government said, during protests to
mark the second anniversary of the arrival of Saudi forces which
helped crush a pro-democracy uprising.
Home to the U.S. Fifth Fleet, the tiny state has been hit by
unrest since the revolt in early 2011, becoming a front line in
a region-wide tussle for influence between Shi'ite Muslim Iran
and Sunni Arab states such as Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates sent in 1,500
troops on March 14, 2011 to help suppress the uprising.
The mass disturbances were crushed but demonstrators, mainly
from Bahrain's Shi'ite majority, have continued small protests
on an almost daily basis demanding equality and a constitutional
monarchy in the kingdom ruled by the Sunni al-Khalifa family.
The latest violence followed the death of two young men
during clashes with police last month as Bahrainis marked the
second anniversary of the Feb. 14 start of the uprising. It is
likely to cast a shadow over reconciliation talks between the
government and the opposition aimed at ending political turmoil.
The Islamist Wefaq association - the country's biggest
opposition group - said that, by midday on Thursday, at least 10
people had been injured by security forces who they said used
live bullets, birdshot and teargas against "peaceful
Three of those injured were in critical condition, the group
said in a report on its website. It posted pictures of injuries,
including a limb hit by what appeared to be a live round.
The Information Affairs Authority said several policemen
were injured when demonstrators attacked them with petrol bombs
and iron rods, and detonated homemade bombs "endangering the
lives of innocent bystanders and security personnel".
"Police used restraint to restore order and all force used
was necessary and proportionate," the assistant chief of
security for operations said in the statement.
The statement said the demonstrators had stolen cars,
torched vehicles and blocked the streets with large rocks and
lampposts and scattered nails and oil on roads. It attached
pictures of barricaded roads and torched vehicles.
It was not immediately possible to verify the authenticity
of the reports or pictures given by either side.
An international inquiry commission, invited by Bahrain's
government, said in a report in November 2011 that 35 people had
died during the uprising. The dead were mainly protesters but
included five security personnel and seven foreigners. The
report said five people had died from torture.
The opposition puts the death toll at more than 80.
Bahrain's opposition and government resumed reconciliation
talks last month for the first time since July 2011, but little
progress has been reported in several sessions of negotiations.
(Editing by Pravin Char)