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Bahrain bans all protest gatherings

Bahrain said that it is banning all protest gatherings amid escalating clashes in the strategic Gulf kingdom which hosts the US Navy's 5th Fleet.

The decision reimposes state of emergency-style rules in the Sunni-ruled nation, whose Shiite majority launched an uprising over 20 months ago, aiming at winning a greater political voice.

The announcement by the Interior Ministry did not specify what actions could be taken against fresh protests, but suggests Shiite political groups could be held responsible with possible arrests or formal closures of their offices.

Bahrain's monarchy has permitted limited protests and marches, but much of the violence occurs outside authorised gatherings.

Emergency rules including curfews and special military tribunals had been enacted for several months during the early stages of the uprising, which has left more than 50 people dead.

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