In Bahrain, 8-year-old boy's death sparks angry street protest

  • Updated: January 27, 2013 - 7:50 PM

 

Riot police and mourners clashed in Bahrain following the funeral of an 8-year-old boy whom opposition groups claim died from respiratory problems triggered by heavy tear gas. Rights groups have complained about intense tear gas use by Bahraini forces during nearly two years of unrest.

Hundreds of mourners staged a protest march in Manama, the capital, following Sunday's burial, but were dispersed by riot police firing tear gas and stun grenades. Some protesters hurled firebombs.

Bahrain has been wracked by conflict between the Sunni-led monarchy and majority Shiites seeking a greater political voice. More than 55 people have died in the unrest in the strategic kingdom, home to the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

FIGHTING INTENSIFIES IN SYRIA

Violence flared across Syria, as government warplanes and artillery intensified attacks on rebels in the suburbs east and south of Damascus, fighting closed the highway to the southern city of Daraa and clashes continued in the strategic central province of Homs and the eastern city of Deir al-Zour, according to state media and antigovernment activists.

Fierce fighting and desperate living conditions have sent 30,000 Syrians fleeing into Jordan in the past month, with thousands more entering Lebanon and massing on the border with Turkey, as the United Nations seeks increased international aid for an underfinanced and overwhelmed relief effort.

The chaos worsened ahead of meetings on the crisis scheduled for Monday, when the main exile opposition group and its international backers are to convene in Paris and civilian opposition leaders, including some who oppose the use of force, plan a conference in Geneva on building Syrian civil society.

Russia's prime minister, Dmitry Medvedev, told CNN, according to a transcript released Sunday, that President Bashar Assad's chances of remaining in office "are getting smaller and smaller," but reiterated Russia's insistence that Assad's ouster could not be a precondition for talks, as the U.S.-backed Syrian opposition leaders demand.

Medvedev said that the United States, Europe and regional powers must "sit the parties down for negotiations, and not just demand that Assad go and then be executed," like Libya's ousted leader, Moammar Gadhafi, "or be carried to court sessions on a stretcher like Hosni Mubarak," the deposed Egyptian president.

"This must be decided by the Syrian people," he said. "Not Russia, not the United States, not any other country."

NEW YORK TIMES

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