Muscat: An uneasy calm prevailed in Oman's southern coastal town of Salalah as the conspicuous presence of security forces around town ensured that the planned gatherings after Friday prayers didn't take place.
For the last two days people have been gathering at the Al Dahariz roundabout as unconfirmed news about the possible release of protesters arrested last Thursday from the Governor's Building started gathering ground.
The roundabout, on the Taqa road on the outskirts of the city, is a closest junction to the prison in Salalah.
Omani Blogger Dhofari Gucci, identified by only as Nadia, Friday wrote on her Blog: "Hundreds waited by Dahariz Roundabout (closest accessible area to prison - since ROP blocked the road). Fathers, brothers, friends, waiting… But, no release, what does that mean? Well, families are angry. They've been waiting at the roundabout for two days."
That summed up the general feeling in Salalah as citizens anxiously waited for the release of protesters. In the absence of any official communication, speculative posting on social media sites and Blogs became the sole source of information from Salalah some 1,000-km south of Muscat.
A post on a page on Salalah protest on popular social media site Facebook said that prisoners had refused freedom as they were demanding unconditional release of all protesters. Another post said that prisoners had clashed with prison guards and had broken a door.
None of the ‘breaking news' posts could be confirmed officially or by activists.
Dhofari Gucci even posted a photo of a large number of protesters huddled up in a room. She described the picture on her Blog as the one taken inside the prison. "Looks pretty tight in there, don't you think?" she wondered in her post.
According to her Blog, two days ago authorities had agreed to release the prisoners without forcing them to sign the ‘commitment form'.
She described the situation in Dhofar as tense.
She said that Firqat Forces had taken positions in Salalah. Firqat forces are unique to Dhofar only and they were established after the Dhofar Rebellion in the 1970s, explains the lady Blogger, who is apparently from Dhofar.