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Kuwait opposition to meet after violent clashes

Interior ministry hints at foreign involvement in opposition protests

Image Credit: AFP
Protesters run for cover as Kuwait riot police used stun grenades and tear gas to disperse thousands of angry demonstrators who marched on the central prison where a leading opposition figure is detained, in Kuwait City on October 31, 2012.
Gulf News

Kuwait City: Kuwait opposition groups are set to hold an emergency meeting Thursday following violent clashes that continued throughout the night between riot police and protesters, a former member of parliament and activists said.

Former opposition member of parliament Mubarak Al Waalan said the meeting would be attended by all opposition groups and youth activists to discuss the clashes, which ended in the early hours of Thursday and covered several areas in the Gulf state.

The violence broke out after thousands of protesters marched on the central jail where prominent opposition figure Mussallam Al Barrak remains detained after the public prosecutor extended his detention for 10 days on Wednesday.

Barrak, a former lawmaker, is being held on allegations he undermined the status of the emir during a public rally October 15. The interior ministry said in a statement early Thursday that five policemen were wounded after two vehicles hit them and sped away, one of the vehicles carrying a “foreign number plate.”

Activists said dozens of people, especially children, were rushed to a hospital after inhaling gases as riot police extensively used stun grenades and tear gas canisters in their attempt to disperse the protesters.

The activists said police chased demonstrators in the Sabah Al Nasser area, a predominantly tribal area near the central jail, into homes and beat them up.

The violence continued in the area until riot police withdrew at about 3am, after seven hours of unrest.

Protests spread to other mostly tribal areas as police clashed with demonstrators in several residential areas near the oil hub of Al Ahmadi, about 40km south of Kuwait City and also in northern Kuwait.

The violent protests were the second major confrontation between police and the opposition in the past 10 days. On Oct. 21 more than 100 people and 11 policemen were hurt during a massive protest.

The opposition plans to stage another demonstration November 4 amid a stern warning by authorities that any illegal protest will be stopped by force.

The trouble began after the government amended the electoral laws. The opposition claims the change is aimed at electing a rubber stamp parliament.

Kuwait is scheduled to hold snap polls December 1, and almost all opposition groups are boycotting.