30 hurt in Bahrain crackdown, some face probe: government

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 23, 2011 2:31 PM

By Lin Noueihed

MANAMA (Reuters) - Thirty people were wounded in Bahrain's crackdown on protesters last week, including 22 who are facing investigation over their role and five who are in a critical condition, the government said on Wednesday.

At least 20 people have been killed in Bahrain since the start of protests last month, including four policemen, and human rights groups and doctors have complained that access to medical care has been hampered since security forces raided Bahrain's busiest medical complex last Wednesday.

Bahraini security forces cleared a number of protesters who had set up protest camps in the car park of Salmaniya hospital, and surrounded the hospital, leaving one entrance open.

Politicians from Bahrain's largest Shi'ite Muslim opposition group say more than 90 people remain missing since last week's crackdown on mainly Shi'ite protesters demanding democratic reforms from the Sunni royal family. Doctors and dissidents say security forces have moved some casualties out of Salmaniya.

In the first official comment on casualties, a government spokeswoman said 12 patients who were in a stable condition had been moved to the military hospital and would face criminal investigation. Another 10 patients who face investigation remain at Salmaniya as their condition did not allow them to be moved.

"As of today, there are 18 patients remaining in Salmaniya Medical Complex with injuries sustained from recent events, with five in a critical condition," Maysoon Sakbar said. "Admissions to Salmaniya Medical Complex have continued throughout the recent period and at no point have supplies been in jeopardy." Salmaniya hospital has been at the center of a media war. Bahraini state television has accused staff at the hospital of discriminating against Sunnis, and said the complex had been occupied by activists and turned into a tool of the uprising.

"For a maximum period of approximately one hour, access to the hospital was limited, but even then emergency cases were still admitted," Sakbar told reporters.

"At no other point were any patients or staff prevented from accessing the hospital although since the operation there have been delays on exit as a result of checks."

She said the hospital was raided because it had been "overrun by political and sectarian activity."

"This included the spreading of malicious propaganda by several senior members of the medical staff and the blocking of medical care ... endangering lives," she said. "Those responsible are being investigated and will be held to account..."

Four medical staff -- Ali al-Ikry, Mahmood Asghar and Bassem and Ghassan Dhaif -- have been detained, doctors and opposition politicians say, after criticizing the government crackdown.