Oman protests resume after deadly clashes

Dozens of protesters staged a sit-in Saturday in the Omani capital to demand probes into alleged state abuses after clashes with security forces left at least one person dead and sharply boosted tensions in the strategic Gulf nation.

The unrest on Friday in the northern industrial city of Sohar — where the protest movement began more than six weeks ago — suggests that high-level shake-ups and other concessions by Oman's rulers have fallen short of the demonstrators' demands for greater political freedoms.



In a sign of worries about more violence, military imposed a nighttime curfew in Sohar and stationed units around government offices and other key buildings in the city, about 120 miles (200 kilometers) northwest of the capital, Muscat.



Medical officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief media, said a 22-year-old man died early on Saturday from injuries in the clashes and at least four other protesters were wounded. The precise cause of death was not immediately known.



Authorities say they used tear gas, water cannons and rubber bullets in "self defense" after the crowds began pelting riot police with stones and brandishing knives, according to a statement by Oman's prosecutor's office. Protesters, however, claim that police opened fire with live ammunition.



It was the second protest-related death in Oman since protests broke out in late February to demand more job opportunities and a greater public voice in political affairs in the tightly controlled nation. Oman's ruler, Sultan Qaboos bin Said, has replaced more than a dozen Cabinet officials and promised other reforms such as 50,000 new civil servant posts.



But the government has failed to halt the wave of rallies, sit-ins and strikes to pressure for changes that include more media freedoms and weakening the ruling system's grip on power. The protest demands so far have not included the sultan's ouster.



In Muscat, several dozen protesters staged a sit-in outside the chief prosecutor's office to demand the release of people detained in recent security crackdowns. The demonstrators also appealed for a judicial investigation into the deaths of the two protesters since February.



Protest leaders have urged more demonstrations in Muscat and other cities around the country.



Oman's unrest remains limited compared with other Arab uprisings, but it is closely watched because of the country's strategic role as co-guardian of the Strait of Hormuz. Oman and Iran share authority over the crucial waterway at the mouth of the Gulf, which is the route for 40 percent of the world's oil tanker traffic.



Oman also plays an important role as a mediator between Iran and the West because of its strong ties to Tehran and Washington. Last year, Oman negotiated a $500,000 bail for the release of American Sarah Shourd from Iranian custody. Shourd and her two US companions — who remain jailed in Tehran — were arrested along the Iran-Iraq border in July 2009 and charged with espionage.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
News
A poster by Durham Constabulary
news
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Emily McDowell Card that reads:
artCancer survivor Emily McDowell kicks back at the clichés
Sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvBadalamenti on board for third series
Life and Style
tech
Sport
Standing room only: the terraces at Villa Park in 1935
football
Sport
Ben Stokes celebrates with his team mates after bowling Brendon McCullum
sportEngland vs New Zealand report
News
Amal Clooney has joined the legal team defending 'The Hooden Men'
people
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine