Five Killed, Hundreds Hurt After Protesters Clash With Bahraini Police

The images showed police shooting tear gas canisters.

The ministry said that fugitives who had escaped from the Jau prison were among the 286 people arrested at the protest and asserted that several of the “outlaws” were carrying hand grenades and knives.

Ruled by the Sunni Al Khalifa monarchy but home to a significant, stifled Shiite minority, Bahrain hosts a United States naval base and is constructing another for British forces.

There were multiple civilians wounded in the raid targeting the months-long sit-in in Dira.

The protests escalated after a court convicted Qassim on Sunday of the illegal collection of funds and money laundering and sentenced him to one year in jail suspended for three years.

Gunshots are heard and white smoke from tear gas can be seen. Another video showed a bulldozer smashing through the area that once hosted the sit-in.

Authorities said security forces would “challenge, in accordance with the law, any gathering or incitement” to protest, the interior ministry said in a statement.

Bahraini security forces shot and killed at least five demonstrators during the operation.

On Sunday, a Bahraini court sentenced Sheikh Qassim to one year in prison. Last June, he was accused of promoting violence and stripped of his Bahraini citizenship. His supporters deny the allegations and called his trial politically motivated.

On Tuesday, the Britain-based Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy reported the “tragic death of a peaceful protester in the crackdown” in Diraz, the hometown of Shiite cleric Isa Qassim. Since then, Bahrain’s most prominent opposition figures have fled the country, been imprisoned, or are facing prosecution. But a yearlong government crackdown on dissent has raised the stakes, with local Shiite militant groups claiming some attacks.

Bahraini authorities have accused Iran of fomenting unrest in the kingdom, but Tehran has consistently denied involvement.

As the assault continues, the government has refused to accredit some journalists and arrested a news agency photographer and social media activist.

In a meeting with Bahrain’s King Hamad in Saudi Arabia at the weekend, Trump made a clear break from previous USA policy.

The timing of the raid was striking, coming two days after President Trump publicly assured the king of Bahrain that their relationship would be free of the kind of “strain” that had occurred in the past – an apparent reference to the Obama administration’s periodic chiding of Bahrain for human rights violations.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif condemned the security raid.

The Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah warned that any harm to Sheikh Qassim “will open the doors for unpredictable outcome and dangers”.

The source reiterated the support of Saudi Arabia for the measures being taken by Bahrain to maintain its security and stability and the safety of its citizens and residents.

The bloody operations in Diraz are likely to raise tensions in the tiny Arab kingdom days after the USA president said Washington’s relationship with Manama -long strained over its human rights record- would improve. His work can be found at http://apne.ws/2galNpz.

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