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BAHRAIN: U.S. diplomats call for dialogue as authorities allege protester mowed down policemen

May 17, 2011 |  4:31 pm

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A protester drove his car into a group of policemen during demonstrations Tuesday, injuring nine, four seriously, according to Bahrain News Agency and state television reports.

"Nine police officers were run over in a heinous act carried out by criminal rioters this evening in Nuwaidrat area," the director general of the Police Directorate of the Central Governorate of Bahrain told the news agency.

The director told the news agency that the police officers were on duty at the time they were injured in the Nuwaidrat area, "dealing with a group rioters attempting to provoke riots and acts of vandalism."

The news agency said one of the "rioters" also suffered a head injury.

"As security men were carrying out their duty … and confronting a group attempting acts of tumult and sabotage, one of those involved was injured in the head, and his brother immediately started driving at full speed and running over officers," state television quoted a police official as saying.

State television showed video of a damaged police vehicle and, along with the state news agency,  showed injured men being treated at a hospital.

At least 29 people, all but six of them Shiite Muslims, have been killed since antigovernment protests started in February in the Sunni-ruled Persian Gulf kingdom. Human rights groups  have complained in recent days that protesters have disappeared or have been held without charges and tortured.

On Tuesday, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg held talks with Bahrain's foreign and justice minister, the state news agency reported. Steinberg emphasized the importance of "full respect" for human rights and "urged all parties to pursue a path of reconciliation and comprehensive political dialogue."

Earlier, Bahrain's parliament accepted the resignations of the remaining seven lawmakers in the Shiite opposition who left to protest government repression of protests. They submitted their resignations in February, but they had not been formally approved by parliament until Tuesday. The resignations of 11 other Shiite opposition members of parliament were previously accepted.

-- Molly Hennessy-Fiske in Cairo

Photo: A Bahraini military medical worker talks to a patient Tuesday night at the Bahrain Defense Forces Hospital in Riffa. Authorities said the patient was a policeman injured Tuesday during clashes with antigovernment protesters. Credit: Hasan Jamali/Associated Press.

That, and the success of peacemaking in Northern Ireland, paved the way for a royal visit that would’ve been anathema not long ago to the many Irish whose ancestors suffered under Elizabeth’s.
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