Police in Bahrain briefly clashed with residents of a besieged town that is home to a leading Shiite cleric on Wednesday, arresting at least two youths before withdrawing from the area, witnesses and activists said.
Bahrain’s interior ministry said on Twitter: “Several arrest and search warrants have been enforced for some individuals and their residences.” It did not elaborate further.
The massing of riot police drew wailing women in black chadors onto the streets of Diraz, fearful that Sheikh Isa Qassim would be deported after losing his citizenship in June over government allegations that he fueled extremism. The cleric also went on trial for money laundering.
The sheikh and his supporters have denied the charges.
Police fired tear gas during the confrontation and at least one person was slightly wounded, witnesses and activists said.
One witness said police targeted a building where young people who hold vigil outside the sheikh’s home at night to prevent his arrest sleep during the day. Qassim has been in legal limbo since June, living quietly at his Diraz home while police have the town surrounded from the outside, controlling who can enter.
Bahrain has been hit by unrest since 2011 when Arab Spring protests led by the Shiite community were repressed by force.
* Associated Press, Reuters