A SERIES of bombs in Bahrain’s capital has killed two people in a sign the opposition may be increasingly turning to violence in the uprising against its rulers.
The apparently co-ordinated string of five explosions in Manama – described by officials as “terrorism” – comes less than a week after Bahrain banned all protest gatherings in attempts to quell the deepening unrest in the politically-important kingdom, which is home the US Navy’s 5th Fleet.
But clashes have not eased, including crowds pelting three police stations with firebombs. More than 55 people have been killed in Bahrain’s unrest since February last year as the nation’s majority Shiites press for a greater political voice in the Sunni-ruled nation.
In the latest violence, two Asian men were killed and a third person injured as at least five home-made explosive devices were detonated. One man died after kicking the bomb and triggering the explosion and the other died from injuries in a separate blast. Like all Gulf Arab countries, Bahrain has a large Asian community of expatriate workers.
The official Bahrain News Agency described the blasts as an “act of terrorism”.
Anti-government factions in Bahrain have used home-made bombs in the past, including a blast that killed a policeman last month in a mostly Shiite village. But the latest attack suggests an expanding campaign of violence because of the scope of the bombings and their placement scattered throughout the heart of the capital, including one area of restaurants and nightlife popular with Westerners.
Bahrain’s Western allies have urged for renewed efforts at dialogue to ease the crisis, but opposition groups insist that talks cannot move forward unless the monarchy is willing to make greater concessions to loosen its hold on the country’s affairs. Bahrain’s leaders have so far made reforms that include transferring more oversight powers to the elected parliament.
Shiites comprise about 70 per cent of Bahrain’s 525,000 citizens, but claim they face systematic discrimination.