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At least one teenager, Mustafa Hamdan, has been critically wounded and numerous injured after armed masked men launched an armed attack against civilians and protesters in the village of Duraz.

Figure 1: 18-year-old Mustafa Hamdan in Intensive Care

Figure 2: X-Ray shows bullet in the head of injured Mustafa Hamdan

On 26 January 2017 at approximately 3 am, at least 20 masked individuals dressed in black civilian clothing and carrying arms attacked civilians next to the home of Shia Cleric Sheikh Isa Qassim in the village of Duraz. Protesters have camped there since June 2016 when the Ministry of Interior revoked the nationality of Sheikh Isa Qassim. The village has faced extreme security measures since then including complete police control over individuals that may enter. All entrances to the village have been set up with police checkpoints, with police controlling who may and may not enter the village. The government has also imposed a nightly internet shutdown in the village for over 200 days.

The attackers were armed with 9mm unidentified pistols and rifles firing both live ammunition and shotgun pellets. Bahrain Watch has identified the use of Victory Starlight Game Load manufactured by the Cyprus-based G & L Calbers Ltd. The manufacturer markets its shotgun pellets, which include Victory Starlight, “for the hunting of migratory birds at long range and wood pigeon at mid-range distances”. Security personnel in Bahrain however, have been using the rounds to target protesters since 2011.

The casings we examined showed that the majority of the pellets used were size #8 32gr loads. However, in at least four instances, we have found that the masked attackers fired size #2 32gr load Victory Starlight pellets which are almost four times bigger than the Ministry of Interior issued size #8 loads. 

Figure 3: Victory Starlight Game Load 32gr #8 shotgun pellets. Casing on the far right indicates size #2 pellets.

Figure 4: Victory Starlight Game Load 32gr #8 shotgun pellets.

Figure 5: Victory Starlight Game Load shotgun pellets and 9mm rounds.

The size #2 pellets were used despite previous assurances by Ministry of Interior officials that officers are only equipped with size #8 pellets. The Bahraini Public Prosecutor has used such assurances in the past to relieve the Ministry of Interior of responsibility in the case of Ahmed Jaber Al Qattan who was killed by a large size shotgun pellet. Ahmed Al Qattan was a 16-year-old male from the village of Shakhura who was killed on 6 October 2011. He was shot in the chest at close proximity during a protest by security forces. The Public Prosecutor said that the pellets extracted from his body were not the same size as those issued by the Ministry. However, Bahrain Watch has documented the use of oversized shotgun pellets used by security forces in Bahrain since 2011. We have previously identified the use of M4 Benelli Rifles, manufactured in Italy, to fire pellets at protesters. 

Figure 6: Collected casings from the dawn attack show more size #2 shotgun pellets and Rheinmetall MK-13 Flashbang Grenades from Germany/South Africa.

Figure 7: Illustration from Al Wasat, 09 October 2011

18-year-old Mustafa Hamdan remains in critical condition after reportedly suffering a skull fracture, concussion, and internal bleeding after being shot in the head with live ammunition. Early reports by medical professionals have indicated that his life it as serious risk. His family has been summoned to the hospital. Images sent to Bahrain Watch show unidentified 9mm bullets used in the attack. A video of the perpetrators also shows the use of a 9mm pistol. Members of the military, royal family and vigilantes likely carry 9mm pistols, and security forces carry shotgun rifles.  

Figure 8: Masked attackers armed with rifles and 9mm pistol.

Figure 9: Masked attackers armed with rifles and 9mm pistol.

The armed attack has come just days after the execution of three individuals charged under Bahrain’s anti-terror legislation. The executions took place by firing squad against Sami Mashaima, Ali Al Singaice and Abbas Al Samea, all who were shot four times in the heart.

Figure 10: Unidentified 9mm bullet fired at civilians and protesters.

Figure 11: Unidentified 9mm bullet fired at civilians and protesters.

Video claiming to show the shooting of Mustafa Hamdan.

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