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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 21 June 2018

Bahrain arrests one suspect of deadly bus attack

The interior ministry said the suspect had an accomplice that had escaped to Iran, which Manama said was behind the attack

A Bahraini forensic police officer inspects the site of a bomb blast in the village of Sitra, south of Manama. Mohammed Al Shaikh/AFP
A Bahraini forensic police officer inspects the site of a bomb blast in the village of Sitra, south of Manama. Mohammed Al Shaikh/AFP

Bahrain arrested a man in connection with a deadly bomb attack on a police bus last month that killed an officer and wounded nine others, said the interior ministry.

It said late on Wednesday that the suspect had an accomplice who had escaped to Iran, which Manama said was behind the bus attack.

“The two [suspects’] actions are part of a cell that has planned and executed a series of terrorist acts, and the cell is linked to terrorists that have fled and are present in Iran,” said the interior ministry.

“The terrorist militant cell has received heavy training in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard camps to use and make combustible material and to use weapons — this along with financial and logistical support.”

The interior ministry said the militant cell, whose members escaped to Iran and are charged with acts of terrorism, include Kassem Abdullah Ali Ahmed, 28, also known as Kassem The Believer and whose Bahraini citizenship was revoked, 36-year-old Sadek Jaafar Mohammed Abdullah Al Touk, Mahdi Ibrahim Jassem Abdullah, 28 — who has been sentenced to 30 years in prison in absentia — Mohammed Mahdi Mohammad Hassan, 39, and 37-year-old Zuhair Ibrahim Jassem Abdullah Abbas — who is currently under arrest in Bahrain.

The suspects were trained to assemble bombs and use weapons — including Kalashnikovs, RPGs and handguns.

Kassem The Believer found safe houses to store material and offered the other members of the cell financial support,” said the statement, adding: “Members of the cell, after returning from Iran, rented an apartment to use as a workshop to assemble explosive devices, and the police seized the material — some of which was used in the bus attack in November.”

The militant cell has been linked to a number of terrorist acts, including two separate explosions in February that targeted police patrols in the Shiite village of Sitra, an explosion that targeted police on August 13, an explosion on October 2 that led to the injury of five police officers, and the recent bus attack — in which police officer Salman Anjam was killed and nine others injured.

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The interior ministry said that the cases of the suspects have been transferred to the public prosecution, while the authorities continue to pursue them and others wanted in connection to the crimes.

Bahrain has repeatedly accused Iran of meddling in its internal affairs, funding militant cells in the kingdom, and of stoking the 2011 anti-government protests, which were led by the country’s Shiite majority.

Demonstrations began in February and were suppressed in March by security forces. Saudi troops and Emirati police were called in to help provide security.

This week, Bahrain said Iran was behind an explosion at its main oil pipeline last Friday, saying it was an “act of terrorism” caused by sabotage. Iran has denied the accusation.

“The attempt to bomb the Saudi-Bahraini oil pipeline is a dangerous Iranian escalation that aims to scare citizens and hurt the global oil industry,” said Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed, Bahrain’s foreign minister, on Twitter on Saturday. He included in his tweet a hashtag in Arabic that read “Iran is targeting us all”.