DUBAI - An international human rights group on Wednesday accused the Bahraini government of indiscriminate use of tear gas against protesters resulting in the maiming, blinding, and killing of civilians - charges the government dismissed.
Bahrain crushed an uprising led by majority Shi'ites last year after successful revolts in Egypt and Tunisia but unrest has continued with marches and rallies that sometimes result in clashes between police using tear gas and Shi'ite youths.
Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) said in a report issued on Wednesday that Bahraini security forces often fire tear gas canisters directly at civilians or into their cars, houses or other closed spaces where toxic effects are worse.
"So-called tear gas, often considered a crowd-control method with no lasting harmful effects, can cause permanent injuries, miscarriages, birth defects, and even fatalities as used by Bahrain's security forces," said Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) Deputy Director Richard Sollom, the report's main author.
A government official rejected the criticism, saying Bahrain conformed with international standards when using tear gas.