DUBAI (Reuters) - A Bahraini teenager died from shotgun pellet wounds after clashes with police on Thursday night, opposition activists said, and the government of the restive Gulf Arab state said it was investigating and would make the results public.
The island’s Shi‘ite majority are demanding more political rights and an end to what they say is discrimination in the Sunni-ruled monarchy, which put down a pro-democracy uprising earlier this year. Many Shi‘ite areas are witnessing almost nightly clashes with police.
An initial coroner’s report said Ahmed Jaber died from wounds sustained from shotgun pellets, or birdshot, the government’s Information Affairs Authority said in a statement, confirming earlier reports from Shi‘ite activists.
“(He) was shot by the security forces at close proximity during a protest with the pellet shotgun, which seems to have penetrated his heart and/or lung and caused his death,” said Maryam Al-Khawaja of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) in a statement that carried a photo of Jaber’s body.
An Interior Ministry statement had said Jaber, who Shi‘ite activists said was 16, died from severe respiratory and blood flow problems, without saying what caused this.
The ministry said later the results of an investigation would be made public as part of efforts to ensure what it termed greater transparency in law enforcement.
The district of Abu Saiba west of Manama, where Jaber was from, saw clashes that evening.
The government says youths blocked roads and set fire to rubbish bins and police fired tear gas and sound grenades after they were attacked with rocks and petrol bombs.
Opposition groups say heavy-handed police tactics are worsening tension on the street. Hundreds of Shi‘ites were dismissed from their jobs over suspected roles in the protests and many remain in police detention.
Around 30 people, mainly Shi‘ites, died when the protest movement erupted in February but ongoing clashes and deaths in police custody have taken the total to over 40, the BCHR says.
“The death of a teenage protester in Bahrain last night must be independently investigated and the findings made public,” Amnesty International said in a statement.
Reporting by Andrew Hammond; editing by Philippa Fletcher