Bahrain puts groups on terror list after bomb kills policemen

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Bahrain puts groups on terror list after bomb kills policemenManama: Bahrain blacklisted three anti-government groups as terrorist organisations on Tuesday, a day after a bomb killed two local policemen and an officer from the UAE, state news agency BNA said.

The attack has raised fears of more violence in the 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.
BNA said 25 suspects in Monday’s bombing in the village of Daih, west of the capital Manama, had been rounded up. It did not says if they were members of any of the blacklisted groups.

Speaking on Bahraini state television, Interior Minister Shaikh Rashid Bin Abdullah Al Khalifa 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 three policemen were killed by a remotely detonated bomb during a protest as hundreds of mourners marched in a procession for a 23-year-old Shiite who died in custody last week.

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 February-March 2011.

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.

FATE OF TALKS

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.

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