Tense calm prevails in Sohar

Muscat - 

The situation on Sohar remained tense on Tuesday with protesters blocking exits from the Globe roundabout with metal barriers in the evening. But there were no reports of violence even as three protesters who were detained earlier in the morning were released later.

The day's sequence of events started with the arrest of the three at the Globe roundabout around 5.30am for carrying megaphones, which is not allowed. Municipality officials then moved in to clean up the area that has been the rallying point of the demonstrators since Sunday.

With the army patrolling the area, the roads and roundabouts were empty without any traffic till about 11.30am. As the day went on, people started gathering at the Globe and Mina roundabouts. Some of them alleged that police had fired in the air to disperse a group at the Mina roundabout though this could not be officially confirmed. They also demanded the release of those arrested during the demonstrations.

Meanwhile, as the fallout of Monday's burning of Lulu Sohar started to sink in, local Omanis who worked there were left staring at an uncertain future.

“They [the rioters] have cut off our source of livelihood,” said Amna Rashid Salim al Badrani, a local resident and a Sohar Lulu employee. "I am very sad because of what happened. What was Lulu's fault in all of this -  that it was close to the protest site? We will be given our salaries but we have lost Lulu."

"I almost cried after I saw Lulu burning on TV,” said Amna's mother. “Lulu was the first hypermarket here. My daughter was happy working there but now we don't know what's going to happen.”

Mohammed Khamees al Jabri, another Lulu employee, said he had lost his 'second home'. “This has hurt me deeply,” Jabri said. “I can’t believe that they have burned it down completely. I wish they had thought about our future before destroying our workplace."

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