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Middle East

Thousands flock to funeral despite concessions

media The son of Redha Mohammed gestures during his father's funeral in Malkiya, … Reuters/Caren Firouz

Thousands of Bahreinis on Tuesday attended the funeral of a slain protester while others flocked to Pearl Square for continuing protests, the day after King Hamad al-Khalifa ordered political prisoners freed.

King Hamad’s concessions did nothing to reduce the turnout at the funeral procession on Manama’s Pearl Square, where vast crowds called for an end to his rule, chanting "sit-in, sit-in, until the regime falls".

The protester being buried on Tuesday was 20-year-old Redha Mohammed, who died on Monday from wounds received Friday.

The opposition has called for a mass mobilisation on Tuesday afternoon in Manama. It is the first to be officially called by political organisations since protests started last week in response to calls by cyber activists.

Tuesday's demonstration has been titled "the march of loyalty to martyrs" in honour of those killed in clashes with security forces, according to Ibrahim al-Sharif, a Sunni secularist opposition activist.

The Islamic National Accord Association, the main Shia party which is currently boycotting parliament, and other opposition groups had demanded the release of prisoners before considering a call for dialogue.

Pro-government Sunnis rallied in their thousands at a Manama mosque Monday evening pledging loyalty to the al-Khalifa family, and calling on protesters to answer Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad's invitation to engage in dialogue.

A senior opposition figure, Hassan Mashaima, who was being tried in absentia, has said he plans to return home on Tuesday.

The names of those included in the king's pardon will be announced on Tuesday, state news agency BNA reported.

Meanwhile the unrest has forced organisers to call off Bahrain's Formula One Grand Prix, which was due to take place in Sakhir on 13 March.

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