Bahrain bombs mark escalation in tensions

By Editor - Tue Nov 06, 11:35 am

  • Police officials work at a bomb site in Manama on Monday. Five bombs exploded in the heart of the Bahraini capital, killing two people.

Manama: The five bombs that exploded in Bahrain on Monday killing two expatriates went off in districts of the capital that are popular with tourists and Westerners, mark an escalation in tensions between the government and its opponents in the nation.

The incident was the first since the height of antigovernment protests last year in which coordinated bombs have been planted in busy areas of the capital. “It’s been a pattern, but five in one day – we haven’t seen that in 20 months,” said Fahad Al Binali, spokesman for the Information Affairs Authority.

The attacks came less than a week after a ban by the government on all protest gatherings, a move that drew widespread international criticism, including from the US.

There was no claim of responsibility for Monday’s attacks in Manama. Bahrain’s security forces regularly clash with extremist factions of the largely Shiite political opposition, which is frustrated by the slow pace of political change by the government.

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Shiite youth activists in Bahrain – many demanding the downfall of the monarchy – have grown more radical in the past year, and some have used homemade weapons, including bombs, to attack police. The government said the bombs used Monday were homemade, and called the incidents a terror attack. The victims were Bangladeshi and Indian.

The mainstream opposition group Al Wefaq voiced concern about the bombings, and blamed the escalation of violence on the lack of progress toward a political solution to the tensions between the government and opposition.

In December, a bomb exploded near the British Embassy, though no one was hurt, in the first apparent attack on one of the government’s Western allies since the outbreak of mass antigovernment demonstrations.

In June, the Bahraini authorities seized over five tons of bomb-making materials and 110 litres of chemicals. Police blamed terrorists.

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