Bahraini regime forces have carried out a dawn raid against supporters of a prominent Shia cleric on trial, reportedly torturing one of them to death and severely injuring another.
Footage released on Thursday showed masked forces attacking Diraz, the native village of Sheikh Isa Qassim, and shooting at the protesters, who were out on the streets again ahead of the cleric’s trial session.
Anti-regime demonstrators have been staging sit-in protests in Diraz since authorities revoked Sheikh Qassim’s citizenship in June over accusations of sowing sectarian discord in the sheikhdom. The top cleric has denied the charges.
The village has also been under siege by regime forces for some six months.
During the raids, Manama’s troops tortured one of Sheikh Qassim’s supporters, who later succumbed to his wounds, AFP reported.
A 21-year-old has been hospitalized with critical injuries after he was shot in the head, medical sources said.
Later, dozens of protesters took to the streets in different parts of Bahrain, including in Juffair, Hamala, Sanabis, al-Markh and Sitra, to voice support for the fellow protesters in Diraz, chanting anti-regime slogans.
Sheikh Isa Qassim, the spiritual leader of Bahrain’s dissolved opposition bloc, the al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, went on trial in July on charges of illegal fundraising and money laundering.
The cleric is also scheduled to attend another hearing session on Monday on charges of inciting violence and “serving foreign interests.”
Tensions have escalated in Bahrain following the execution of three anti-regime activists by firing squad on January 15.
The killings came a week after the Court of Cassation upheld death sentences over the killing of three policemen, including an Emirati officer, in the village of al-Daih in March 2014. The defendants had denied the charges.
The executions drew angry international reactions, with UN human rights commissioner spokesman Rupert Colville describing the killings as “appalling.”
Thousands of anti-regime protesters have held numerous demonstrations in Bahrain on an almost daily basis ever since a popular uprising began in the kingdom on February 14, 2011.
They are demanding that the Al Khalifah dynasty relinquish power and let a just system representing all Bahrainis be established.
Manama has gone to great lengths to clamp down on any sign of dissent. Scores of people have lost their lives and hundreds of others sustained injuries or got arrested as a result of Al Khalifah regime’s crackdown.