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Home of Bahrain's top Shiite cleric raided

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Bahrain's main opposition accused government troops of raiding the home of the country's leading Shiite cleric on Friday, and warned that authorities will bear responsibility for this "dangerous" act.

The Shiite Al-Wefaq movement levelled the accusations in a statement and distributed pictures of what it said was damage caused to the home of Ayatollah Issa Qassem in the town of Diraz, west of Manama.

There was no immediate confirmation from the minority Sunni-ruled government of Bahrain -- home to the US Navy's Fifth Fleet.

"Dozens of armed troops, accompanied by masked civilian forces, stormed the home of Ayatollah Issa Qassem at dawn on Friday... damaging property and terrorising women and children," Al-Wefaq said.

Qassem was not at home at the time of the raid, Al-Wefaq said, adding that government forces gave no reason for the operation.

"The Bahraini regime... will bear full responsibility for this dangerous act," it said.

However, the interior ministry said two policemen were injured in dawn clashes in Diraz by a "home-made weapon".

It said crack reinforcements were sent to the cleric's town to locate "the people implicated in this terrorist act".

Qassem is known for his support of protesters who have been staging demonstrations against the ruling Sunni monarchy in Shiite-majority Bahrain since February 2011.

Witnesses said thousands of people later on Friday staged demonstrations in Shiite villages against the raid on the cleric's home.

A total of 80 people have been killed since the protests erupted, according to the International Federation for Human Rights.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130517/home-bahrains-top-shiite-cleric-raided