x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Petrol-bomb attack on Bahraini MP's house

Opposition calls for authorities to allow peaceful protest.

The home of a Bahraini member of parliament was attacked with petrol bombs yesterday, the state news agency BNA said, in the latest in a series of assaults on public officials and security personnel in the kingdom.

No one was hurt in the dawn attack on the home of Abbas Isa Al Madi, the chairman of parliament's services committee. Pictures published by BNA showed fire damage to the main gate and a garage door.

The Sunni-ruled island, home of the US Navy's Fifth Fleet, has been buffeted by political turmoil since 2011, when mostly Shiite protesters took to the streets calling for democratic reforms and more say in government.

Although authorities have largely crushed the revolt, small-scale clashes and protests erupt almost daily in the kingdom.

The prime minister, Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, condemned the attack on Mr Al Madi's house and ordered security forces to find those repsonsible.

"Vandalism has never been a path to reform and terrorism and suppression of the opposite opinion has never been a path to democracy," he said.

Bahraini opposition groups yesterday called for authorities to call off a crackdown on a major anti-government rally next month.

They had called for large demonstrations on August 14, inspired by the toppling of the Egyptian president, Mohammed Morsi.

Authorities promised a harsh response to the planned rally, apparently fearing it could sharply escalate the ongoing street clashes.

In a joint statement, five opposition groups urged authorities to remove the threat and allow the "right for peaceful protest".

National reconciliation talks between the government and opposition groups have made little progress since they began in February. Instead, residents point to an increase in the use of home-made bombs, including fire bombs, in recent months against security forces and sometimes public officials.

Earlier this month, a home-made bomb killed a policeman in Sitra, a Shiite town near the capital, Manama.

On Saturday, a home-made bomb injured four policemen in the village of Janabiya, in north-western Bahrain.

* Reuters and Associated Press