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Bahrain opposition activists held

At least six leading opposition activists have been detained in the continuing crackdown on protesters in the Gulf kingdom of Bahrain, according to reports.

Security forces had full control of parts of central Manama, a day after overrunning a protesters' camp and clashing with Shiites elsewhere in the country.

At least five people were killed - two policemen and three protesters - in the assault on the encampment in Pearl Square, according to opposition groups and the government.

The Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights said those taken into custody in the pre-dawn raids included Hassan Mushaima and Abdul Jalil al-Sangaece - who were among 25 Shiite activists on trial on charges of trying to overthrow the nation's Sunni rulers.

The case was dropped in a bid to calm tensions after political unrest began last month, but the latest sweeps suggest authorities have abandoned efforts at dialogue and are trying to silence opposition leaders.

Bahrain has imposed a three-month emergency rule that gives the military wide powers to battle the pro-democracy uprising that began in mid-February in the strategic nation, which hosts the US Navy's 5th Fleet.

The Youth Society group said the others detained include Shiite activists Abdul Wahad Hussein and Hassan Hadad and Sunni liberal leader Ibrahim Sharif, who had joined with Bahrain's majority Shiites to demand the Sunni monarchy loosen its grip on power.

About 1,500 troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are in Bahrain as part of a Gulf task force to help the Sunni rulers. The move, however, has brought sharp criticism from close ally Washington.

Bahrain's authorities have imposed a 4 pm to 4 am curfew and restricted movement around the country - limiting efforts by journalists to conduct first-hand reporting.

Officials at the country's main hospital said they took in 107 injured from Wednesday's violence, nine of them in critical condition.


From Belfast Telegraph