x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Denmark: Bahrain activist condition critical

Abdulhadi Al Khawaja, who has been on hunger strike in Bahrain for the last two months is now in critical condition, Denmark's prime minister said.

COPENHAGEN // A jailed activist who has been on hunger strike in Bahrain for the last two months is now in critical condition, Denmark's prime minister said yesterday.

Abdulhadi Al Khawaja, a Shiite with dual Danish and Bahraini nationality, was sentenced with other seven opposition activists to life in jail over an alleged plot to topple the Sunni monarchy during a month-long protest a year ago.

"Denmark demands that Danish-Bahraini citizen and human rights activist Khawaja be freed," said Helle Thorning-Schmidt, the prime minister, said at a press conference. "According to our information, Khawaja's condition is very critical."

Authorities in Bahrain said before Ms Thorning-Schmidt's remarks that Al Khawaja showed no signs of critical medical problems and had been taking fluids orally or by an IV drip.

Demonstrations in Bahrain's Shiite villages have increased as tensions between the authorities and the opposition escalate over the fate of Al Khawaja. On Monday, seven Bahraini policemen were injured by assailants in the Shiite village of Akr.

General Tareq Al Hassan, Bahrain's public security chief, said an improvised bomb exploded near a police checkpoint at the entrance to the village, "wounding seven policemen, three of them critically", Bahrain's official BNA news agency reported.

Gen Al Hassan said the initial investigation has "revealed that the explosion was caused by a pipe bomb attached to a container full of gasoline".

The main Shiite opposition group, Al Wefaq, alleged four people were arrested in Akr yesterday and claimed security forces "brutally" beat up relatives of those wanted by authorities.

There was no word from officials regarding the arrests.