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'250 Detained, 44 Missing in Bahrain'

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TEHRAN, Mar 29 (ICANA) – Bahrain's main opposition bloc says 250 people have been detained and 44 others gone missing since a brutal crackdown against anti-government protesters in the Persian Gulf state.
Tuesday, March 29, 2011 4:49:22 PM
'250 Detained, 44 Missing in Bahrain'

Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society member and former lawmaker, Mattar Ibrahim Mattar, told Reuters on Monday that a large number of Bahrainis get arrested at checkpoints or during house raids. Family members give accounts that relatives do not return home.

“We have around 250 confirmed arrested and 44 who are missing, though that number fluctuates when people reappear after hiding from police,” Mattar said.

The former Bahraini parliamentarian added, “Just today and yesterday, we got calls from 35 families saying they lost contact with their relatives when they passed through a checkpoint.

“We don't know what's happened to them, authorities won't say. In these conditions, we actually have to hope they were arrested.”

Earlier this month, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Qatar dispatched their armed forces to crisis-hit Bahrain to quash anti-government protests in the tiny Persian Gulf state.

The dispatch of troops from Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf allies of Bahrain highlighted concerns about possible spillover from the country, where month-old protest rallies seek to break the Western-backed government's monopoly on power.

Saudi and other Arab rulers fear that any concession by Bahrain's rulers could embolden more protests against their own despotic rules.

Recently, mass protests in Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia and Yemen have been demanding government reforms.

Foreign military interventions in Bahrain have served as a cause of concern for UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who has called for a meaningful and broad-based national dialogue.

The UN chief has also urged Bahrain's regional neighbors and the international community to support a dialogue process and an environment conducive to credible reform in Bahrain.

Bahraini opposition groups, including al-Wefaq party, have denounced the Saudi military intervention as an invasion of their country.

The US military, which has its Fifth Fleet based there, has avoided describing the foreign troop intervention in Bahrain as an invasion.

Bahraini demonstrators maintain that they will hold their ground until their demands for freedom, constitutional monarchy as well as a proportional voice in the government are met.

At least 20 people have so far been killed and about 1,000 others have been injured since anti-government protests in the Persian Gulf island nation began in mid-February.

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