Execution of Shia Muslim sparks off new riots

 

A FIRING squad yesterday executed a Shia Muslim for murdering a policeman during political unrest last year, sparking new riots in which schools were ransacked and tires burned near Manama, the Bahraini capital.

Issa Ahmad Hassan Qambar (28), was the first person to be executed since anti government violence erupted in December 1994 over the arrest of a Shia cleric who led demands for the restoration of parliament.

Qambar, who was sentenced to death for the premeditated murder of a police officer on March 22nd last year, was shot in prison at dawn this morning a government spokesman said.

The emir, Sheikh Issa ibn Salman al Khalifa, had approved the execution, the spokesman said.

Later, hundreds of young Bahrainis protested, setting tires ablaze and ransacking schools in Sitra and Hamad town, south of the capital, as well as in the Shia villages of Sanabis and Jidhafs, west of Manama.

Police in Sitra fired tear gas to try to break up a protest by more than 300 young people in clashes which an Asian shopkeeper described as probably the "worst" he had seen in Sitra.

"Demonstrators were beaten up and some might have been injured, he added.

The exiled opposition denounced the execution as a political murder" and warned it would fuel more trouble.

A government spokesman said the authorities had expected a backlash from those who "want to harm the country's security," but added the "situation was under control."

Qambar's brother, Abdel Nabi Ahmad Hussein, said police had tired tear gas to disperse women mourners who had gathered out side the family home in Nuwaidrat village, outside Manama and deployed reinforcements in the area.

Protesters, mainly students, yesterday, destroyed furniture, broke windows and set documents on fire, witnesses said. Between 50 to 100 protesters were involved in the attacks on each school.

"Two schools in Jidhafs were closed following demonstrations," a resident said. "Doors, windows and furniture were completely destroyed in one of the schools. People in these areas now live in fear."

A western diplomat said the authorities wanted to "set an example" by executing Qambar, who was sentenced to death in July for killing Ibrahim Rashid al-Saidi. Nine Shia accomplices were given jail sentences.

Qambar and other men travelling by car rammed the victim's vehicle as he returned home from wok through Nuwaidrat stabbed him pushed his head into a pool of water and stoned him, newspapers said.