DUBAI, Nov 5, (Agencies): Bahrain said Wednesday it has uncovered a “terrorist organisation” linked to Iran and arrested 47 of its members, foiling imminent attacks in the Sunniruled Gulf kingdom. “The organisation has strong links with Iranian parties and terrorists residing in Iran,” the interior ministry said, adding that some members had received training on weapons and explosives in the Islamic republic.
The announcement comes amid escalated tension between Bahrain and Iran, as Manama recalled its ambassador and asked Tehran’s envoy to leave last month claiming interference in its affairs. The interior ministry said arms and explosives were found in several caches in villages around Manama. It said the group had “terrorist attacks plotted for the coming days, aimed at shaking security across the country”.
The cell was the latest case “of Iran meddling in internal affairs and attempts to shake the security and stability of the kingdom of Bahrain through organised terrorist attacks”, said the ministry in a statement carried by BNA state news agency. Shiite-majority Bahrain has been hit by unrest since a pro-democracy uprising in 2011, and it frequently accuses predominantly Shiite Iran of meddling in its affairs.
In August, Bahrain arrested five people suspected of links with Iran in connection with a bombing that killed two policemen.
Meanwhile, five Bahrainis were convicted of conspiring with Iran to carry out attacks inside Bahrain, sentenced to life imprisonment and stripped of their citizenship, Bahrain’s Public Prosecutor was cited as saying by state news agency BNA reported.
The Sunni Muslim-ruled kingdom says Shi’ite neighbour Iran is trying to foment unrest among its majority Shi’ite population. Tehran denies this. On Wednesday, the interior ministry said it had arrested 47 members of a group it said had ties to “terror elements in Iran” and was also plotting attacks. Public Prosecutor Ahmed al-Hammadi said in a statement on BNA that two defendants were present at the sentencing at Bahrain’s Criminal Court, while the rest were tried in absentia.
The statement said the five communicated with members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard with the aim of carrying out attacks on banks and public buildings. Two of them had trained in Iran with the Revolutionary Guard, while the others provided financial and logistical support, it said.
Last month Bahrain recalled its ambassador to Iran, a day after the Gulf Arab state said its security forces had discovered a large bomb-making factory and had arrested a number of suspects linked to the Revolutionary Guard.
Home to the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet, Bahrain faced protests during the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings in which Shi’ites demanded political reforms. The government denies that it discriminates against Shi’ites.