Pro-democracy  protesters run towards Farooq Junction during protest in Manama
Pro-democracy protesters run towards Farooq Junction during protest in Manama

Violence and tensions have increased in Bahrain on the first anniversary of the mass pro-democracy protests.

The Bahraini regime blamed the upsurge in violence on Al-Wefaq, Bahrain's largest opposition party. A government statement said the group was responsible for turning the protests violent because it failed to "control the crowd".

Police fired teargas and stun grenades at protesters, who were accused of throwing firebombs and rocks at security forces.

The government has threatened legal action against march organisers.

The event was sanctioned by the government but authorities complained many protesters left the authorised route in the capital Manama.

Al-Wefaq retaliated against accusations by criticising the authorities for excessive force against protesters.

"The peaceful nature of our popular uprising is not a temporary tactic but a strategic choice. The political forces refuse confrontations with security forces, as this would provide officials a scapegoat for not meeting legitimate demands of the people, as documented in the Manama Charter," it said in a statement.

"We do not understand why violent protesters are automatically linked to Al-Wefaq. Throughout the months, Al-Wefaq leaders have called for the protests to remain peaceful," Ali Alaswad a former Bahraini MP and member of Al-Wefaq told IBTimes UK.

"We try to control the streets, we try to control the youths and talk to them," he added

"But the youths are becoming angry and frustrated as after one year of protests the regime is still ignoring our demands for more political reforms and an elected government. As per usual we call on protesters to remain peaceful."

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