France slams use of force againt Arab protests
France on Thursday deplored the "excessive" use of force against anti-regime protesters in several Arab nations, saying it was particularly concerned by violent protests in Bahrain, Libya and Yemen.
Foreign Minister Michele Alliot-Marie "is particularly concerned by the latest developments in several North African and Middle Eastern countries, notably Bahrain, Libya and Yemen," deputy spokeswoman Christine Fages said.
Alliot-Marie "deplores the excessive use of force which led to several deaths and numerous injuries (and) reaffirms France's attachment to freedom of expression and the right to demonstrate peacefully everywhere in the world."
Protests have gripped several Arab nations after popular demonstrations brought down authoritarian regimes in Tunisia and Egypt.
At least 25 people were injured in the latest clashes between pro- and anti-regime protesters in the Yemeni capital Sanaa on Thursday, the day after up to 13 people were killed in Libyan protests against leader Moamer Kadhafi.
A police raid on an anti-regime protest in the Bahraini capital Manama early Thursday left at least four people dead and scores wounded.
Riot police stormed through Pearl Square, the epicentre of pro-democracy protests in the Gulf island state, in the early hours of Thursday firing rubber bullets and tear gas and sending hundreds of protesters fleeing.
"We deplore the excessive use of force by security forces while dispersing demonstrators on Pearl Square," Fages said.
Alliot-Marie caused an uproar by suggesting in January that France could help train Tunisia's police to keep order, as reports were already emerging of security forces killing unarmed protesters.
© 2011 AFP