At least one person has died and dozens have been detained in clashes between protesters and security forces in the Persian Gulf kingdom of Oman.
Demonstrators in the capitol Muscat staged a sit-in on Saturday and demanded that the government investigate alleged abuses by security forces during previous clashes on Friday in the industrial city of Sohar.
They arrested between 50 and 60 people [on Friday] who were throwing stones at the security forces, some as young as 17, a protester told Reuters.
At least four people were wounded.
Witnesses told Reuters that security officers used teargas and beat protesters with batons. Some police reportedly used live ammunition on the crowds.
However, according to a statement by the prosecutor's office, state officials claimed they used tear gas, water cannons and rubber bullets to defend themselves from protesters who attacked riot police with stones and knives.
After more than six weeks of unrest, Omani’s rulers have reshuffled the cabinet and made other concessions, but protesters seeking true democratic reforms remain dissatisfied.
Expecting further disturbances, the army has deployed personnel at government offices and other key locales in Sohar.
Sohar is full of security and military men and there are frequent inspections, an activist told Reuters in Dubai.
There are no protests or sit-in in Sohar today. A sit-in would be the fastest way to end your life.
At least three Omanis have died in the unrest that erupted in February as protesters demanded better job opportunities, democratic reforms, a free media, an end to corruption and a reduction in the ruling Sultan Qaboos bin Said’s powers.
Although the disturbances in Oman has been modest relative to the turmoil in other Arab countries, the kingdom holds a key strategic advantage since it co-oversees (with Iran) the Strait of Hormuz, through which 40 percent of global oil tankers pass through.
Oman also mediates disputes between Iran and western nations.
Earlier this month, wealthier Arab countries introduced a $20-billion aid program for Oman and Bahrain in order to create jobs and to upgrade housing and infrastructure.