01/09/2014, 00.00
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Seoul blocks tear gas exports to Bahrain

After human rights groups protest, the South Korean government stops firms that provided tear gas to the Gulf kingdom since 2011. According to allegations, tear gas has maimed and killed pro-democracy protesters.

Seoul (AsiaNews/Agencies) - South Korea has suspended tear gas exports to Bahrain because of protests by human rights groups who accuse the Gulf kingdom of using the chemical weapon too broadly resulting in the death of pro-democracy activists.

Officials at South Korea's state-run Defence Acquisition Programme Administration (DAPA) said two firms have been told not to ship any more tear gas to the Gulf kingdom.

One of them, giant DaekWang Chemical has supplied a million tear gas shells to Bahrain in 2011 and 2012.

For its part, Bahrain's Interior Ministry said it had not been informed of any ban by Seoul. "Tear gas is used by Bahrain's police force only as a necessary and proportionate measure," the Ministry said in a statement, "in compliance with international law."

Human rights activists disagree, claiming that since 2011 - the year when pro-democracy protests broke out across the region - governments in the Gulf have used gas as a weapon.

According to US-based Physicians for Human Rights, 39 deaths have been attributed to the unprecedented use of tear gas, resulting in the maiming and blinding of hundreds of civilians.

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