Bahrain ‘uncovers terrorist cell’ plotting attacks
Chief prosecutor blames international group of 54 including suspects in Iran, Iraqi and Germany for killings of police.
Bahrain says it has uncovered an international “terrorist cell” comprising 54 members, with police arresting 25 suspects in the Gulf country.
The group includes 12 based in Iran and Iraq, one in Germany and 41 – including 10 who escaped prison in January – from Bahrain, the information ministry said on Friday in a statement sent to Al Jazeera.
The statement did not disclose the suspects’ nationalities.
Authorities said that they confiscated machine guns and explosive devices from the group, which is accused of carrying out and plotting deadly attacks on police in the country.
The group was blamed for killing at least two police officers and injuring another one in three separate attacks in January in and around the capital Manama.
Ahmed al-Hammadi, a chief prosecutor, told state news agency BNA that in total there are 41 alleged members.
Sixteen of the suspected members in Bahrain remain at large, he said.
“Investigations revealed that the movements of the terrorists to other countries were coordinated by one of the cell leaders based in Germany,” Hammadi said.
“He made the arrangements for several members to go to Iran and Iraq to receive training in the use of explosives and firearms at the Revolutionary Guard camps ahead of carrying out their terrorist crimes in Bahrain.”
The group’s members smuggled weapons from Iran and Iraq, and committed other “terrorist” crimes,” Hammadi said.
Prosecution levelled 16 charges against the group.
Four of the 25 detainees denied the charges, while the others confessed to them, Hammadi said.
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Bahrain has been rocked by unrest since its Sunni authorities crushed Shia-led protests in 2011 which were demanding a constitutional monarchy and an elected prime minister.
Hundreds of Shia have been arrested and many have faced trials over their role in the demonstrations.
Shia protesters continue to clash with security forces in areas outside Manama.
The Bahraini government blames Al-Wefaq, the country’s largest opposition movement, for the upheaval, accusing the party of pursuing an “Iranian agenda”.
Al-Wefaq, for its part, denies the allegations, saying it wants to see the establishment of a “constitutional government” in the small Gulf kingdom.
The Associated Press news agency said Iran has not yet responded to the chief prosecutor’s claims.