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Police tackle Bahrain protesters

Police in Bahrain have used tear gas to disperse hundreds of anti-government protesters marching on the capital Manama, witnesses have said.

Witnesses said the clashes began as demonstrators assembled in the village of Musalla outside Manama for Shia ceremonies to mark the holiday of Ashoura.

As the commemorations came to an end, some in the crowd began shouting anti-government slogans and started running in the direction of the capital's Pearl Square, witnesses said.

They were stopped by police as they neared the square. No injuries were reported, though some protesters appeared to have fainted and were being carried away by other demonstrators.

The country's Sunni rulers also moved to mollify the mostly Shia-led opposition movement by ordering prosecutors to investigate allegations of abuse by the security forces throughout Bahrain's 10-month-old uprising.

The investigation ordered by the interior minister, Lt Gen Sheik Rashid bin Abdullah Al Khalifa, was announced by the country's Information Affairs Authority. It covers "all cases related to deaths, torture and inhumane treatment implicating police".

The move follows the recommendations made last month by a special commission that probed claims of human rights abuses during the uprising, in which at least 35 people, including security force members, were killed.

The commission was authorised in a bid to ease tensions with the majority Shias, a rare example of an Arab regime subjecting itself to a harsh public reckoning.

It issued a 500-page report documenting torture, the use of excessive force and fast-track trials, as authorities tried to stamp out the largest of this year's Arab Spring uprisings to hit the Gulf.

Opposition activists at the time said those responsible for the abuses needed to be brought to justice.

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