Explosions kill two workers in Bahrain

Riot police prepare to fire tear gas at protesters during an anti-government rally in the village of Diraz on 2 November 2012. (Photo: Reuters)

Published Monday, November 5, 2012

Five homemade bombs went off in the Bahraini capital Manama on Monday, killing two foreign street cleaners and wounding another worker, the state news agency said, describing the explosions as "terrorist acts."

The attacks come as two Bahraini activists were sentenced Monday to prison for “defaming” the king on Twitter. One activist received a one-month sentence and the other is to serve four months in prison, their lawyer said.

Another activist was sentenced to six months in prison last week over the same charge.

Police have been targeted by explosions several times this year in what is seen as retaliation for dozens of killings of protesters at the hands of security forces since the massive anti-government uprising erupted in February 2011.

But bombs targeting civilians are rare in the kingdom, raising suspicions over responsibility and motives at a time when the government is coming under heightened international scrutiny over its persecution of human rights activists.

“As always, we condemn all acts of violence and call for an independent investigation into the bombings,” Maryam al-Khawaja, acting head of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, told Al-Akhbar. “There has been so much lying that we cannot trust anything this government says.”

The explosions on Monday took place in the Qudaibiya and Adliya districts of Manama, the BNA agency said, citing a police official.

An Interior Ministry statement on Twitter said the two dead men and the wounded man were Asian workers.

BNA gave no more details on the backgrounds of those affected or the incidents, which come after the government last week banned all rallies and gatherings, drawing international condemnation from human rights groups and the United Nations.

Amnesty International described the ban as a violation of the right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.

Anti-government protests have continued throughout the country despite the ban.

A prominent human rights activist was arrested on Friday while documenting police attacks on peaceful protesters in the village of Diraz.

Said Yousif, BCHR deputy head, may be charged with participating in an “illegal gathering” within a week pending an investigation.

Bahrain's royal family, which has maintained a tight grip over the country for more than a century, is a strategic US ally and hosts the US Fifth Fleet.

(Reuters, Al-Akhbar)

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