Bahrain vowed Tuesday to eliminate “terrorism,” a day after a bomb killed three policemen in a Shiite village, in the deadliest attack on security forces since they crushed the 2011 uprising.
Clashes frequently erupt near the capital Manama between security forces and protesters from the country’s Shiite majority demanding the ruling Sunni dynasty surrender its grip on all key cabinet posts in favour of an elected government.
Ministers at an extraordinary meeting pledged to “take the necessary measures to eradicate terrorist groups and those who support them,” BNA state news agency said.
They asked the interior ministry “to carry on relentlessly its combat against terrorism” following Monday’s bomb attack in Daih village, on the outskirts of Manama.
The explosion was the bloodiest attack on the security forces since the Shiite majority backed an Arab Spring-inspired uprising in February 2011 against the ruling Al-Khalifa family.
An officer from the United Arab Emirates was among the three personnel killed in the Daih bombing.
He is the first Gulf officer reported to have been killed since forces from the region rolled into Bahrain in March 2011 to boost the kingdom’s security forces, which later quelled the month-long uprising.
Bahrain has always maintained that the Gulf force does not take part in confrontations with protesters and has only been deployed to protect vital installations.
The UAE interior ministry said First Lieutenant Tariq al-Shehi was part of a force established as part of a Gulf security pact.
Bahraini security forces deployed in several Shiite villages on Tuesday, establishing checkpoints and arresting at least 12 Shiites, witnesses said.
Security forces have cordoned off Daih since Monday, they said.
– ‘Terror’ groups listed –
At their meeting, the ministers also listed the little-known Al-Ashtar Brigades and Resistance Brigades among “terrorist groups,” in addition to the clandestine February 14 Coalition, BNA said.
They urged Bahrainis to be “nationally responsible and not stand beside the terrorists and vandals.” They also tasked the justice ministry with keeping an eye on political associations and mosque preachers that use “hatred and sectarian speech.”
The statement came as a Bahraini court sentenced 10 Shiites to prison terms of between three to 15 years for a December 2012 attack on a police station in which there were no casualties.
The longest terms were handed down to two of those convicted over the attack in the Shiite village of Khamis, near the capital, while seven received 10 years and the other three years.
Six opposition groups, led by the main Shiite formation Al-Wefaq, condemned Monday’s deadly attack on the policemen.
“The sanctity of the blood applies to every human being,” said a joint statement.
It called on supporters to “adhere to peaceful means and condemn and disclaim criminal acts claimed by the so-called Al-Ashtar Brigades or Resistance (Brigades) or any other party that claims responsibility for bomb attacks and violence.”
Al-Ashtar Brigades has reportedly claimed responsibility for bomb attacks in the kingdom, including a July bombing outside a Sunni mosque.
Three years after the uprising, the kingdom remains deeply divided, with persistent protests that ignite clashes with police, scores of Shiites jailed on “terror” charges, reconciliation talks deadlocked and sectarian distrust simmering.
The International Federation for Human Rights says at least 89 people have been killed since the start of the 2011 revolt.
Last year the authorities increased the penalties for those convicted of violence, introducing the death penalty or life sentences in cases which resulted in deaths or injuries.