Bahrain’s Interior Ministry has announced the death of five people in raids on protesters gathering in the northwestern village of Diraz.
On Tuesday, over 280 people were also detained during the attack, according to the ministry.
Earlier in the day, Bahraini regime forces stormed into the residence of Sheikh Isa Qassim, the spiritual leader of the country’s Shia majority in the village, arresting everyone inside the house. It is not yet clear whether Sheikh Qassim himself is among the detainees.
Security forces fired birdshots at protesters and teargas into the house of the prominent cleric.
The village has been a scene of protests since last June, when authorities stripped the cleric of his citizenship over accusations that he used his position to serve foreign interests and promote “sectarianism” and “violence.” He has denied the allegations.
Following the brutal operations, Bahraini clerics called for mass nationwide protests.
Amnesty condemns Bahrain violent crackdown
Meanwhile, Amnesty International has slammed the Manama regime’s excessive use of force against protesters, stressing that the village has been under siege for over 11 months.
“Today’s disturbing developments again show the consequences of rampant impunity enjoyed by the security forces. There must be a prompt, independent investigation and those responsible for unlawful killing and other arbitrary or abusive force must be prosecuted. The authorities must rein in the security forces, order that they strictly comply with international standards on police use of force, and ensure the right to peaceful protest is protected,” said Amnesty’s Director of Campaigns Samah Hadid.
“Our information indicates that police attacked what started out as a peaceful demonstration. International standards require that law enforcement must not use lethal force unless unavoidable to protect against a threat to life or risk of serious injury,” she added.
On Sunday, Qassim was handed a suspended one-year prison term and ordered to pay a fine.
Since 2011, the kingdom has been the scene of peaceful anti-regime protests against the systematic abuse of the Shia population and discrimination against them.
The Bahraini regime has responded to the protests with excessive and lethal force, which has drawn international criticism.