Bahrain's leading opposition group said a 71-year-old man suffocated to death after police fired teargas near his home on Friday, but the government said he died of natural causes.
Police broke up scattered protests in Manama using teargas during a planned "Day of Rage" which faded quickly because of a heavy security force presence across the city.
Wefaq, the leading Shi'ite opposition group, said in a statement; "The citizen Issa Mohammed Ali Abdullah (71 years old) died in Maameer village this Friday due to asphyxiation after inhaling gas fired by security forces ... which entered into his house as he was sitting inside."
Reuters was unable to verify the cause of death.
Wefaq leader Mattar Ibrahim Mattar told Reuters: "His family called the emergency room but there was no response from Salmaniya hospital."
A statement issued later by Bahrain's Interior Ministry said it had used teargas in Maameer and elsewhere to stop protests, which it said endangered national safety. However, it said Abdullah died of natural causes.
"Following an examination by a forensics doctor, it was concluded that the cause of death was from natural causes. No evidence was found that the cause was anything to do with suffocation from tear gas," the statement said.
Wefaq said on Friday Maameer had been blockaded by police and a lack of hospital assistance made it impossible to revive Abdullah. There was no indication he had been involved in the protests.
ReutersLast Mod: 26 Mart 2011, 12:09