Bahrain

Bahraini Forces Raid Top Cleric’s House: Reports

Bahraini security forces raided the house of top Shiite cleric Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim on Tuesday, media reports said.

Al Khalifa troops forced open the door of Sheikh Isa’s home in the village of Diraz on Tuesday and searched the house, local Bahraini sources reported.

They added that all people inside the house were arrested, but it is not clear whether Sheikh Qassim had been apprehended or not.

Bahraini police opened fire Tuesday on a protest by supporters of a top Shiite cleric, with at least one demonstrator reported martyred in the latest unrest to hit the Persian Gulf state.

The Britain-based Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) announced the “tragic death of a peaceful protester in the crackdown” in Diraz, the scene of a long-running sit-in outside the home of the prominent cleric.

Reports said hundreds of civilians were wounded when police opened fire at demonstrators throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at security forces.

Police arrested several people wanted by the authorities, the interior ministry said.

Ayatollah Isa Qassim is considered the spiritual leader of Bahrain’s majority Shiite community.

Bahrain’s interior ministry said Tuesday it had “launched a security operation in the village of Diraz to preserve security and civil order as the site is a safe haven for fugitives.”

The latest developments came after a Bahraini court, in a politically motivated move on Sunday, announced its verdict against Sheikh Qassim, sentencing him to one year in prison.

According to the ruling, Sheikh Qassim’s properties worth three million Bahraini dinars (near $8 million) have been confiscated. The cleric was also sentenced to pay a fine of 1,000 Bahraini dinars (about $2,650).

According to local reports, Sheikh Qassim’s prison sentence has been suspended for three years.

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