The U.N .rights office on Tuesday criticized Bahraini forces for their "disproportionate use of force" as they sought to quell protests, saying their use of tear gas may have led to over 30 deaths.
"We have been receiving worrying reports of the disproportionate use of force by Bahraini security forces, including the excessive use of teargas, the use of birdshot pellets and rubber bullets," said Rupert Colville, spokesman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights.
"The use of tear gas in particular has reportedly resulted in a number of deaths of protestors and bystanders, and that number has reportedly risen in recent months," he said.
Colville said the office was unable to confirm figures but added that non-government organization sources had reported "more than 30 over the course of the past year" as having died due to tear gas-linked complications.
"What's disturbing is the sharp increase in the last two to three months," he said, noting that NGOs were reporting up to two cases every month last year, but that in January six fatalities were recorded and in February seven.
"Over the last few days, another three," said Colville, pointing out however that there was some dispute about their causes of death.
"We call on the government of Bahrain to investigate the alleged use of such excessive force," said the spokesman.
Tensions have remained high in Bahrain since a deadly crackdown last year after a month of Manama street protests.
According to an independent probe, 35 people were killed in unrest between mid-February and mid-March 2011.
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