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Four people killed, dozens missing after Bahrain police raid

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

Manama, Feb 17, IRNA -- At least four people were killed and dozens are missing after Bahraini security forces raided thousands of protesters gathered in the capital's Pearl Square to demand greater political freedoms and more jobs.

The raid took place hours after the army declared state of emergency.

The crackdown provoked the protesters to escalate their demands to include the ouster of Bahrain's prime minister, a member of the royal family who has served for nearly 40 years, and even an end to the al-Khalifa monarchy.

Thousands of protesters have set up camp in Pearl Square.

Meanwhile, al-Wefaq leaders said the group's 18 deputies would not return to the 40-member parliament until King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa agreed to transform the nation into a constitutional democracy with an elected government.

In 2001, voters overwhelmingly approved a national charter to lead the way toward democratic changes. But a year later, the king imposed a constitution by decree that the Shia leaders say has diluted the rights in the charter and blocked them from achieving a majority in the parliament.

The Khalifa family, which has ruled Bahrain since 1820, is Sunni Muslim.

The Shia majority, making up for 70 percent of the population, have grievances about administration of the state affairs and providing the Shia Muslim youth with jobs.

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