x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Dozens of arrests in Oman at protest

The fresh round of violence follows a wave of arrests in Salalah, including 15 protesters who were detained on Thursday night while camped outside the office of the governor of Dhofar province.

MUSCAT // Omani security forces arrested dozens of protesters yesterday as government troops clashed with demonstrators demanding jobs and better pay in the southern city of Salalah, witnesses said.

"The clash between security forces and protesters lasted until the early hours of Saturday morning. Security forces used their batons and took away protesters in three army buses," one witness, who did not want to be identified, told The National.

The fresh round of violence follows a wave of arrests in Salalah, including 15 protesters who were detained on Thursday night while camped outside the office of the governor of Dhofar province.

Witnesses said security teams set fire to the protesters' tents and other reports claimed that "hundreds" of demonstrators may have been arrested. There were more violent clashes on Friday, and the police presence continued yesterday.

"The security forces are still there to make sure no protesters comes back. But we hear most of the people arrested on Thursday have been released," another witness said, adding that no one was injured.

Protesters have focused on demands for more jobs, better wages and an end to graft. They have also called for democratic reforms such as those inspired by popular rebellions in Egypt and Tunisia.

The protests first turned violent on February 27 in Sohar, when security forces killed a protester while breaking up a demonstration.

Sultan Qaboos bin Said, a US ally who has ruled Oman for 40 years, promised a $2.6 billion (Dh9.5bn) spending package in April after two months of demonstrations.

Many protesters have been unsatisfied with Sultan Qaboos' response to their demands, saying the changes have been partial or too slow.

Earlier this week, Omani police arrested six people involved in a demonstration in Jaalan Bani Bu Ali.