x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Bahrain arrests six opposition activists

The Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights said those taken into custody included Hassan Mushaima and Abdul Jalil al Sangaece – who were among 25 Shiite activists on trial for trying to overthrow the country's Sunni rulers.

MANAMA // Authorities detained at least six prominent opposition activists on Thursday as the crackdown on dissent widened a state emergency, a rights group and the relatives of the arrested said.

The Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights said those arrested in the predawn raids included Hassan Mushaima and Abdul Jalil al Sangaece - who were among 25 Shiite activists on trial for trying to overthrow the nation's Sunni rulers. The charges were dropped in a bid to calm tensions after political unrest began last month, but the latest sweeps suggests authorities have abandoned efforts at dialogue and are trying to silence the opposition leaders.

The group said the others detained include the Shiite activists Abdul Wahad Hussein and Hassan Hadad, and the Sunni liberal leader Ibrahim Sharif, who had joined with Bahrain's majority Shiites to demand the monarchy loosen its grip on power.

A senior opposition leader, Abdul Jalil Khalil, said Abdul Hadi al Mokhdar of Wefaq movement was also among those detained before dawn on Thursday.

"This is alarming and our priority is stop the bleeding of the country," Mr Khalil said, adding that opposition is expecting more arrests of leaders.

Bahrain has imposed a three-month emergency rule that gives the military wide powers to battle the pro-democracy uprising that began in mid-February in the country.

About 1,500 troops from Saudi Arabia and the UAE are in Bahrain as part of a Gulf task force to help quell the protests.

On Wednesday, soldiers and riot police overran a protesters' camp in the capital Manama and clashed with Shiites in several areas of the country. At least five people were killed - two policemen and three protesters - in the assault on the encampment in Pearl Square, according to opposition groups and the government.

Meanwhile, doctors at the country's main hospital said the facility was controlled by security forces, blocking physicians from leaving.

Authorities have imposed a 4pm to 4am curfew and restricted movement around the country.