Bahrain arrests four over blasts; blames Hezbollah

November 07, 2012 - 4:59:11 am

DUBAI: Bahraini police have arrested four suspects in connection with a wave of bombings that killed two Asian expatriates in the capital Manama, the official BNA news agency reported yesterday.

The news agency did not elaborate on when or how the arrests were made. “An investigation is under way to uncover the circumstances surrounding these terrorist crimes and identify the rest of the criminals and arrest them,” BNA quoted public security chief Major-General Tariq Al Hassan as saying.

The report came hours after King Hamad ordered “the swift arrest of the terrorists who carried out the recent terrorist acts in Bahrain.” The king appealed to the public for help to “bring them to justice so they receive their punishment over this appalling act.”

Prime Minister Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman Al halifa said: “The terrorists and vandals plotting against Bahrain will receive their punishment and the inciters will be held responsible for what happened.

“The government will not allow a stray group to destroy the nation, threaten and terrorise safe citizens,” he added.

Five bomb blasts in the capital’s Gudaibiya and Adliya districts killed two Asian expatriates and wounded a third on Monday, police said.

The bombings came amid persistent tensions between the kingdom’s Shia majority and its Sunni rulers since the bloody crushing of month-long pro-democracy protests in March last year.

The main Shia opposition group Al Wefaq condemned the attacks but cautioned that “due to the absence of independent human rights and media groups, it is difficult to clearly determine the truth behind the incidents.”

However, a top official of the US-aligned government said yesterday that the five home-made bombs that killed two people on Monday bore the hallmarks of Hezbollah, the Lebanese militant group allied with Iran.

The Sunni Muslim-dominated government has been struggling since early last year to suppress pro-democracy unrest led mainly by the Gulf Arab kingdom’s majority Shias.

The BNA quoted Information Minister Samira Ibrahim bin Rajab as saying the bombings were staged by terrorist groups trained outside Bahrain and based in countries including Lebanon. 

She said the groups were operating under principles set by Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and that 19 pro-Iran satellite media channels were inciting their supporters in Bahrain to subvert the government.

The five blasts in the capital Manama on Monday killed two street cleaners and wounded another, according to state media. The Interior Ministry described the blasts as “terrorist acts”, its term for violence by opposition activists. But an opposition politician and a human rights activist said that the attacks, which came a few days after the government banned opposition gatherings with the stated goal of ensuring public safety, could have been the work of government forces trying to justify the clampdown. 

The government has repeatedly accused Iran of fomenting the turmoil, a charge the Islamic Republic denies. Hezbollah also denies involvement in the Bahrain protests, but has criticised the government’s handling of them.

Bahraini police say they have been the target of numerous attacks with homemade bombs since April, including one that killed a policeman last month.