Bahrain accused of burying dead protesters without families' consent

The families of five youths killed in a raid last week say they were buried without permission. Authorities deny the charge. Tensions soared in Bahrain after soldiers raided Diraz village, arresting nearly 300 people in a crackdown on dissent.

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

Bahraini police raided a town where a sit-in has been going on for months in support of Sheikh Isa Qassim, a prominent Shia cleric, who had his citizenship stripped by the government.

The families of five Bahrainis killed during a security raid last week have accused authorities of depriving them of the chance to bid farewell to their loved ones after they were buried without permission.

Authorities denied the charged. An interior ministry official said the five were buried on Friday after families were contacted to attend funeral services, only to change their minds later, the Al Wasat newspaper reported on Sunday.

The dispute over the burial was likely to increase tensions in the Sunni-governed Gulf Arab island, where a government crackdown on opponents has already angered majority Shia-Muslims who have been demanding a bigger share in running the Western-allied country.

Authorities said that the five killed were among a group that attacked security forces during a raid in Diraz, the village of Shia-Muslim spiritual leader Ayatollah Isa Qassim, and that nearly 300 people were also arrested.

The raid has stoked tensions in the Gulf kingdom where the US Fifth Fleet is based.

The killings sparked anger in Iraq where demonstrators protested against Bahrain's government last week. (AP)

Families' & official accounts are at odds

On Sunday the families said they had received a call on Friday to send two male members to a local police station.

The families said they understood that the summoning of male relatives meant a burial ceremony was being planned. They said they refused to go, demanding instead that the bodies be handed over for proper funeral services.

"The martyrs' families announce that depriving them from burying their sons in accordance with their wish can be construed as a crime which will be added to the first crime of liquidating them in the field," the families said in a statement.

Bahrain was rocked by mass protests in 2011 that were quelled by security forces. But protests continued to erupt from time to time with varying intensity.

The Bahrain government says that the opposition has been working with Gulf states' rival Iran to overthrow the government. Iran denies the accusation.