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Amir condoles loss ... Bahrain puts groups on terror list Twenty-five held in bomb probe

MANAMA, Bahrain, March 4, (Agencies): Bahrain’s Interior Minister says authorities have arrested 25 people in the Gulf Arab nation on suspicion of involvement with a bomb attack that killed three police officers. The comments Tuesday by Sheikh Rashed bin Abdullah Al Khalifa showed authorities’ determination to move swiftly to apprehend those responsible for Monday’s blast on the outskirts of the capital Manama. Sheikh Rashed called the bombing and another attack that killed a police officer last month “premeditated murder” and a reminder “of the high level of danger” facing the country. The officers killed Monday died when a bomb apparently detonated remotely went off while they were trying to disperse anti-government activists. Among the dead was an officer from the United Arab Emirates deployed to help bolster security in the tiny island kingdom.

Meanwhile, His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah conveyed his sympathies and condolences to King Hamad bin Issa Al-Khalifa of Bahrain and to the families of the victims of the deadly bomb attack. His Highness the Amir stressed, in his cable sent Tuesday, Kuwait’s strong condemnation of such act of violence that terrorized the people and shook the security and stability of the country. His Highnesses Deputy the Amir and Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah sent cables of similar sentiment.

Bahrain blacklisted three anti-government groups as terrorist organisations on Tuesday, following the bombing, state news agency BNA said.
The attack has raised fears of more violence in the Sunni Muslim-ruled kingdom, where opposition groups led by majority Shiites have staged protests for the past three years demanding political reform and an end to perceived discrimination.
The cabinet, meeting in emergency session in Manama, put the “so-called February 14 movement, Saraya al-Ashtar (Ashtar Brigade) and Saraya al-Muqawama (Resistance Brigade) and any group associated or allied to them on lists of terrorist groups”, BNA said.
The decision effectively outlaws these groups and makes their members subject to imprisonment. Bahrain listed Lebanon’s Shiite Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation last year.
Speaking on Bahraini state television; Sheikh Rashed condemned the attack and blamed Iran for instability in the island kingdom.
“As we have said before, what happens inside our country has foreign links. We have announced publicly that foreign training sessions were organised and hosted at Iranian Revolutionary Guard camps that operated with official backing,” he said.
Iran denies links to Bahrain’s opposition. It does, however, champion their cause.
The shadowy Saraya al-Ashtar organisation has claimed responsibility for the attack in a message on social media that could not immediately be authenticated.
Saraya al-Muqawama is also little-known, but the February 14 movement has been organising anti-government protests since the security forces crushed the mass demonstrations of February-March 2011 with help from Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
A Bahraini policeman was killed last month during protests to mark the third anniversary of the uprising.
“It’s clear that the government has not succeeded in the last three years in ending the sort of violent activities that at least one part of the opposition continues to engage in, and not for lack of trying,” said Justin Gengler, a Bahrain expert at Qatar University.
The policemen’s deaths further clouded attempts to revive reconciliation talks between the government and the opposition.
Mainstream opposition groups, including the main Shiite al-Wefaq movement, condemned the bombing and called on their followers to ensure that protest activities were peaceful.
But Citizens for Bahrain, widely regarded as a pro-government group, said the condemnation was not enough.
“It is good that the Bahraini opposition has come out and condemned the killing of three policemen. However, it should recognise that the terrorists who perpetrated these acts are the seeds of its own creation,” it said in an email on Tuesday.
The UAE police officer, who had worked alongside Bahrain’s security forces, was buried in the UAE on Tuesday.
Bahrain and the UAE are members of the Western-aligned Gulf Cooperation Council, a political and military alliance that also includes Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait and Qatar.
Bahrain’s Shiites have long complained of discrimination against their majority community in areas such as jobs and public services, charges that the Sunni-led government denies.
The Gulf island is a US ally which hosts the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet. The Sunni al Khalifa family, which has ruled for two centuries, has resisted Shiite-led demands for an elected government, not one chosen by the king.
Bahrain’s human rights record is often criticised at home and abroad. The government says it has taken steps to address abuses by security forces by dismissing those responsible and introducing monitoring cameras at police stations.

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