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Brutal Bahrain forces injure 120 anniversary protesters

More than anti-regime 120 protesters have been wounded in clashes with police in Bahrain this week, activists said on Wednesday.

Activists using the name “February 14 Youth Coalition” called for more demonstrations a day after protests to mark the first anniversary of a violently suppressed pro-democracy uprising, Reuters reported.

“There were over 100 cases on Tuesday and 37 of them are bad, with head injuries and fractures,” said a medic who works with researchers of an international organization and who asked not to be identified. “On Monday we had 20 people (wounded) in all villages around the country.”

The medic said some casualties had been hit by birdshot pellets.

Most of the wounded are treated in village homes or private health clinics because protesters fear they will be arrested if they go to government hospitals.

Police fired tear gas and birdshot at the protesters and arrested dozens in clashes that raged through the night and into early Wednesday, the opposition said.

The government meanwhile said in a statement it had deported six U.S. citizens for joining the “illegal demonstrations,” bringing the number of Americans expelled from Bahrain to eight since the end of last week.

Witnesses said the clashes, which took place in neighborhoods on the outskirts of the capital Manama, left many people wounded, but most received treatment in private homes.

In a statement released Wednesday, the main opposition Al Wefaq said “large numbers of injuries … were caused by birdshot pellets, tear gas canisters, stun grenades,” but gave no figure.

Bahraini police made dozens of arrests from Tuesday while dispersing protesters attempting to march on the capital’s former Pearl Square, the focal point of the February 14th uprising that was crushed a month later.

“The total number of arrests … is around 150, including women and children between the ages of 13 and 16,” the Al Wefaq statement said, adding that some were later released.

Prominent activist Nabil Rajab, head of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, who on Tuesday led a demonstration towards the square, was briefly detained by police, Al Wefaq said in a statement on its Facebook page.

In a morning tweet on Wednesday, Rajab said he has been “accused by the prosecutor of inciting people to protest … and taking part in an unauthorized gathering.”

In a statement this week, Amnesty International said that “at least a further 20 have died,” in ongoing protests since the end of November when the report was released.

Al Wefaq has vowed that the protest movement would continue and has accused the government of being “tyrannical.”

Bahrain’s chief of public security, Tariq al-Hassan, said there would be “no tolerance of vandals and law enforcement is the ultimate solution,” according to an interior ministry tweet.

The Bahraini revolution began in mid-February 2011, when the people, inspired by the popular revolutions that toppled the dictators of Tunisia and Egypt, started holding massive popular demonstrations.

The Bahraini government promptly launched a brutal crackdown on the peaceful protests and called in Saudi-led Arab forces from neighboring Persian Gulf states.

Dozens of people have been killed in the crackdown and the security forces have arrested hundreds, including doctors and nurses accused of treating injured revolutionaries.

A report published by an independent committee in November found that the Al Khalifa regime used excessive force and accused Manama of torturing political activists, politicians, and protesters.

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