Bahrain detains human rights activist - colleague

MANAMA Sun Mar 20, 2011 12:40pm IST

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MANAMA (Reuters) - Bahraini security forces detained the outspoken head of the main human rights group early on Sunday, a colleague said, days after a crackdown that drove mainly Shi'ite protesters off the street.

"I want to update you that they arrested Nabeel Rajab at 1.30 am and the riot police came to my home and I'm not in my home right now," Said Yousif of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights said in an email sent overnight.

Rajab had spoken to media about the crackdown and the Bahrain Center for Human Rights put out statements this week accusing Bahraini forces and their Saudi and Emirati allies of "massacres" including some using Apache helicopters.

Bahraini state television has said that Bahrain does not own Apache helicopters.

Four protesters and three police have been confirmed killed in Wednesday's crackdown.

Neither Rajab nor Yousif could be reached by phone early on Sunday, but some Twitter feeds suggested Rajab had already been released after questioning by police.

Rajab's arrest would bring to 10 the number of people believed to have been arrested since the crackdown began on Wednesday. Among the others are opposition leaders who had called for the overthrow of the monarchy and doctors who had complained of excessive use of force against protesters.

(Reporting by Frederik Richter, Writing by Lin Noueihed; Editing by Matthew Jones)

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