MANAMA (Reuters) - Bahraini security forces have seized bomb-making equipment being smuggled from Iraq aboard a passenger bus for use in attacks in the Gulf Arab kingdom, the public prosecutor said.
Like its neighbors, Bahrain is concerned that sectarian wars in nearby Iraq and Syria may undermine stability at home, where a Sunni Muslim monarchy has weathered a protest movement and sporadic bombings by the restive Shi’ite Muslim majority.
The public prosecutor said that authorities found 140 detonators, 41 electrical circuits, a remote control device and some cellular telephones hidden inside electrical appliances aboard the bus when it was stopped for a routine search on the King Fahd Causeway linking Bahrain with Saudi Arabia.
“The bag belonged to a passenger, a juvenile, who had brought it from Iraq, at the request of a person there who is wanted for terrorist crimes, to deliver to someone in the Sitra area with the aim of using it for terrorist operations,” the state news agency BNA said, quoting the prosecutor.
Sitra is a mainly a Shi’ite village located in the northern part of the Gulf island country. Bahrain has seen a number of deadly attacks mainly against security forces in recent years involving home-made bombs detonated remotely.
The Interior Ministry had earlier said that security personnel had arrested a wanted person on security grounds on his return to the country coming out of Iraq, and seized materials used in carrying out terrorist acts. But the ministry did not identify him.
Bahrain, which is home to the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet, was swept by unrest during the 2011 “Arab Spring” uprisings when the majority Shi’ites demanded political reforms. The government has denied any discrimination.
Bahrain and fellow Sunni Muslim-ruled Gulf monarchies are taking part in an American-led campaign to bomb Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq from the air, and have fought home-grown Islamist radicalization with surveillance and arrests.
Reporting By Farishta Saeed and Omar Fahmy; Writing by Noah Browning; Editing by Mark Heinrich