x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Manama hit by string of bombings, 2 dead

Attacks in capital came less than a week after Bahrain banned all protest gatherings in an attempt to quell deepening unrest.

Police collect evidence at the site of a bombing where a migrant worker was killed in the Manama suburb of Gudaibiya.
Police collect evidence at the site of a bombing where a migrant worker was killed in the Manama suburb of Gudaibiya.

MANAMA //Five bombs went off in Manama yesterday, killing two street cleaners and wounding another worker, the state news agency said.

The apparently coordinated string of explosions - described by officials as "terrorism" - came less than a week after Bahrain banned all protest gatherings in attempts to quell the deepening unrest in the kingdom. The bombs were also a sign that some factions within the opposition may be turning increasingly to violence in the nearly 21-month unrest in the country.

The banning of protests has not eased clashes, including crowds pelting three police stations with firebombs yesterday. More than 55 people have been killed since February last year as the nation's majority Shiites press for a greater political voice.

Two Asian men were killed and a third person injured yesterday as at least five homemade explosive devices were detonated, the interior ministry said. One man died after kicking the bomb and triggered the explosion and the other died from injuries in a separate blast, officials said.

"The attacks... show a total disregard for human rights and the basic principles of humanity," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, the deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International. "The authorities must ensure that an independent, impartial and thorough investigation is conducted and that those responsible are brought to justice in proceedings that comply with internationally recognised standards for fair trial and with no possibility of the death penalty."

The explosions occurred in the Qudaibiya and Adliya districts.

Anti-government factions in Bahrain have used homemade bombs in the past. In October, two policemen died after sustaining serious injuries from an improvised explosive device (IED) attack.

In April, an IED exploded in a Shiite village on the outskirts of Manama seriously wounding two other policemen. But the latest attack suggests an expanding campaign of violence because of the scope of the bombings and their placement scattered throughout the heart of the capital, including one area of restaurants and nightlife popular with westerners.

Foreign ministers from the GCC plan to meet in Bahrain tomorrow to discuss regional issues, including Bahrain's tensions and growing clashes in Kuwait between security forces and an opposition led by Islamists.

Bahrain's western allies have urged for renewed efforts at dialogue to ease the crisis, but opposition groups insist that talks cannot move forward unless the monarchy is willing to make greater concessions to loosen its hold on the country's affairs. Bahrain's leaders have so far made reforms that include transferring more oversight powers to the elected parliament.

* With additional reporting by Reuters and Agence France-Presse