Jul 7, 2007, 0:47 GMT

Manama, Bahrain - Loaves of bread and household items were held up in the air as Bahrainis on Friday protested against inflation and poverty.

Protesters called on the government to raise the standard of living and not withdraw subsidization of basic goods.

'The aim is to bring attention to the sky rocketing of prices at a time when wages remain low,' Mohammed al-Singace, head of the newly established Public Committee to Improve Standards of Living, told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.

With oil prices reaching one-year highs on Friday, al-Singace said revenues from oil sales should be directed toward increasing wages and raising the living standards of citizens.

'Bahrain was the first Gulf state where oil was discovered - where did all the revenues from those sales go?' al-Singace said.

His comments came amid a leaked government proposal to withdraw its subsidization of fuel, increasing oil prices further.

'The government should address the needs of the people and pay attention to their deteriorating standard of living, particularly as consumer goods prices continue to rise,' al Singace said.

Bahrain inflation rate according to 2006 estimates stood at 3.5 per cent, up from 2.7 per cent the previous year.

Many of the people taking part in the protest said they were holding minimum wage jobs that pay no more than 150 Bahraini Dinars (400 dollars), which according to them is barely enough to make ends meet.

'I work a day job and in the afternoon, I wash cars in a local mall and I barely make enough to help feed my family,' one of the protests said.

Shortly following the sit-in, clashes erupted between protesters and Bahraini police in the Shiite village of Daih on the outskirts of Manama.

Protesters burned tyres and waste, blocking the main highway in the area and hurling Molotov cocktails at police units that attempted to disperse them.

There were no reports of injuries or arrests as a result of the clashes, which lasted about two hours.

© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur

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