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Indian killed in Bahrain

New Delhi, March 18: A former defence employee from Kerala working as a private security official in Bahrain has died after being apparently caught in a crossfire between government forces and protesters.

The death of Stephen Abraham and the raging anti-establishment protests today prompted the Centre to advise Indians in Bahrain either to return home or send back family members “whose presence is not essential in that country”.

A similar advisory has been issued for Indians in Yemen, also hit by anti-government demonstrations.

According to an external affairs ministry statement, Abraham was standing on the terrace of a building in Bahrain’s capital Manama when he was hit by bullets on Wednesday evening. But his brother Shaju alleged that security personnel fired at him during an air surveillance of protesters who had gathered on the streets below.

The 40-year-old Abraham had been working in Bahrain for a construction company, al Moyad, since taking voluntary retirement from the Indian Army a year ago. His wife, children and other family members live near Pathanamthitta town in southern Kerala.

Following the incident, India’s ambassador to Bahrain Mohan Kumar has advised Indians to stay indoors. “Situation tense but calm. stock up on rations. absolutely stay indoors. we will get thru this together,” he tweeted.

Bahrain has over three lakh Indians, almost a quarter of the country’s population.

The protests in Bahrain, led by the majority Shia community demanding political reforms in the country ruled by a Sunni monarchy, have increasingly become violent with government forces using force against the agitators.

Ambassador Kumar yesterday met Prime Minister Sheikh Khalifa-bin-Salman-al-Khalifa amid the growing safety fears. “He (Kumar) was assured by the Prime Minister that the authorities will do everything to ensure the safety and security of Indians living in the country,” a ministry spokesperson said.

Similar safety worries have arisen about the estimated 14,000 Indians living in Yemen, leading the Centre to urge some of them to consider leaving. “In view of the evolving situation in Yemen, those Indian nationals residing in Yemen, whose presence is not essential, particularly families, may consider leaving the country by the commercial means available,” the ministry statement said.

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