Five bomb blasts hit Bahraini capital, two killed

Mon Nov 5, 2012 5:15pm EST
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By Andrew Hammond

DUBAI (Reuters) - Five bombs exploded in the heart of the Bahraini capital Manama on Monday, killing two Asian street cleaners, officials said, and prompting mutual accusations from activists and a government trying to put down a mostly Shi'ite pro-democracy uprising.

The Interior Ministry said the bombs were homemade and described the blasts as "terrorist acts" - its term for violence by opposition activists.

But an opposition politician and a rights activist said the attacks, which came days after the government said it had banned all rallies and opposition gatherings to ensure public safety, could have been the work of government forces trying to justify the ban or a further crackdown.

Injuries to protesters or police are relatively common in the 21-month-old uprising, but attacks on the public have been rare on the Gulf island, where the Sunni Muslim Al Khalifa dynasty rules over a majority Shi'ite population.

The explosions took place between 4:30 and 9:30 a.m. (0130-0630 GMT) in the Qudaibiya and Adliya districts of Manama, the official Bahrain News Agency (BNA) said, citing a police official. It described the explosives as "locally made bombs" and said a third Asian worker had been wounded.

One of the attacks took place outside a cinema, where one of the street cleaners died when he kicked a package that blew up. A witness said that blast caused little material damage, suggesting it had not been large.


Police say they have been the target of numerous attacks with homemade bombs since April, including one that killed a policeman last month, as the government has stepped up efforts to quell an uprising that has crippled the economy.   Continued...

Bahrain's Police Chief Tariq Al Hassan speaks during a media briefing on details of five bomb explosions in the heart of Manama November 5, 2012. REUTERS/HAMAD I MOHAMMED