Bahrain witnesses: Activist hurt by gas canister

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Prominent Bahraini human rights activist Zainab al-Khawaja is helped by a protester after being shot in the leg with a tear gas canister in Buri, Bahrain, southwest of the capital of Manama, on Wednesday, June 27, 2012. Police dispersed the demonstration in support of victims of torture with tear gas and stun grenades. Al-Khawaja was taken to a hospital by another activist. (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali)


MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) — Bahraini police injured a prominent human rights activist by shooting her in the leg with a tear gas canister, witnesses said on Thursday.

Yousef al-Muhafedha, a member of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, said he saw police fire the canister at Zainab al-Khawaja at close range after anti-government protesters gathered in the village of Buri southwest of the capital Manama a day earlier.

Police appeared to recognize Khawaja, he added.

The injury did not appear life-threatening. Associated Press photos taken shortly after the incident showed her limping with blood trickling down her right leg.

Khawaja is the daughter of jailed activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, whose more-than-100-day hunger strike brought renewed international attention to the protest movement in Bahrain. She couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

The government Information Affairs Authority said police have not received al-Khawaja's claim of injury, but that all such cases are taken seriously.

"If citizens have been harmed due to misconduct or negligence, they are requested to immediately file a complaint so that it can be investigated as soon as possible," the authority said in an emailed response to questions.

It added that "precaution should always be exercised" by Bahrainis taking part in unauthorized demonstrations.

Separately, Bahraini police said they are searching for three suspects after they discovered what were described as highly explosive bomb-making materials during a raid two weeks ago.

Bahrain's majority Shiites, emboldened by Arab Spring protests elsewhere, launched an uprising more than 16 months ago seeking to limit the wide-ranging powers of the ruling Sunni dynasty. At least 50 people have been killed in the unrest in the strategic island nation, which is home to the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet.

Bahrain's monarchy has made concessions, but not enough to satisfy demands of protesters. Clashes between police and protesters happen nearly every day.


Associated Press writer Adam Schreck in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, contributed reporting.