DUBAI (Reuters) - Bahrain should mount an “impartial” investigation into the death of a woman in what the government said was a bombing on Thursday after conflicting stories emerged about how it occurred, a local human rights group said on Saturday.
Bahrain’s Interior Ministry said the woman was killed and her three children injured by shrapnel from what it described as a terrorist bomb attack.
But the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) called the official account into question, saying “there are conflicting narratives regarding the incident ... as well as conflicting accusations concerning the responsibility for this tragic event”.
That appeared to be a reference to social media comments by Bahraini opposition activists that people who witnessed the incident had said the woman had accidentally driven into a royal convoy and was then fired upon by the security services.
The Interior Ministry said in its statement on Friday that it was investigating the incident. Large crowds attended the woman’s funeral on Saturday.
Violence and bomb attacks largely aimed at Bahraini security forces have sporadically taken place since mass, pro-democracy protests led by the Shi‘ite Muslim majority in the Sunni-ruled monarchy were ended by the government in 2011.
The human rights record of Bahrain has been criticized by the United States, Britain and rights groups.
In June, authorities closed down the main opposition group, detained BHCR’s president Nabeel Rajab and stripped the island’s leading Shi‘ite cleric of his citizenship.
Bahrain, which hosts the United States’ Fifth Fleet, is seen by other Sunni-ruled Gulf kingdoms as a strategic bulwark against the influence of their Shi‘ite rival Iran.
Reporting By Dubai Newsroom; Editing by Richard Balmforth