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Bahrein: King apologises for protester deaths in televised speech

ultimo aggiornamento: 15 febbraio, ore 17:25

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Manama, 15 Feb. (AKI) - The tiny Gulf state of Bahrein's monarch, King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa has apologised for the deaths of two Shia demonstrators this week and said there would be a formal investigation.

In a speech aired on state television Tuesday, Al-Khalifa said: "I have asked deputy prime minister Jawad Bin Salem al-Aridh to form a commission of inquiry to establish what happened during the clashes over the past 24 hours between police and militants."

Fadel Salman Matrouk was shot dead in front of a hospital on Tuesday where mourners gathered for the funeral of Msheymah Ali who died of his wounds after police dispersed a protest in a village east of Manama on Monday.

The monarch also said he had asked Bahrein's parliament to "examine reforms that meet the needs of the protesters."

"The reforms will not stop under any circumstances," he said.

News of the two deaths prompted activists, who posted pictures of both men on a Facebook page. The page called for a huge turnout at the men's funerals and to step up anti-government protests inspired by the recent revolts in Tunisia and Egypt.

More than 22,000 people by Tuesday had clicked "like" on the Facebook page.

The al-Wifaq Shia parliamentary opposition group in Bahrein's parliament on Tuesday announced it was suspending its deputies from parliament in protest at the Sunni monarchy and its repression of Shia protesters.

Bahrein is ruled by the Sunni Al-Khalifa family of King Hamad, which retains a tight grip on the premiership and key ministries.

The Shia opposition, which makes up 19 out of the parliament's deputies, opposes the elected house's legislative powers being shared with an appointed upper house.

It also accuses Bahrein's authorities of trying to alter the archipelago's demography by giving Sunni immigrants citizenship.

In the 1990s, Bahrein was plagued by a wave of Shia-led unrest that abated after 2001 reforms restored the parliament.

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