Bahrain Protests Escalate Over al-Eker Attack
On 21 October, the Bahraini Government announced the arrest of seven individuals alleged to have been linked to the recent bombing attack which killed 19 year-old police officer Imran Mohammed Ahmed, and wounded one other. According to the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, the town of Al-Eker, where the attack occurred, has been “under siege” and “citizens are [being] subjected to house raids, arbitrary arrests, attacks and mosques are being vandalized” since the attack. The Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights also documented the alleged violations, claiming that entry and exit to the village has been blocked. Activists Zainab al-Khawaja and two others were also arrested under charges of “obstructing traffic” while trying to bring food and medical supplies into the village. Confrontations between Bahraini authorities and hundreds of protesters continued for the second day in a row, as demonstrators continued to try to enter the village. Al-Wefaq also called for an end to the “siege” and the alleged abuses. The Bahraini Information Affairs Authority (IAA) released an official press release condemning the attack as a “domestic terror act” vowing to determine “who orchestrated the explosion and who trained the individuals in the bomb-making skills.” The IAA also posted a video of the attack and another of unarmed police operations, in an effort to refute the claims of abuse.
The U.S. Department of State addressed the incident by condemning the attack on the police officers and “urged all members of Bahrain society to condemn and renounce violence,” reiterating that the Bahraini government should “follow the recommendations of the BICI Commission and sit down together and work on national reconciliation.” Bahraini courts also acquitted a female policewoman of torture charges, and upheld but reduced the sentences of two teachers charged with “trying to overthrow the regime” during protests. Jalila al-Salman received six months and Abu Deeb received five years. Meanwhile, Simon Henderson of The Washington Institute noted that both Bahrain and Saudi Arabia perceive the unrest as a result of Iranian meddling and that the greatest dilemma for the U.S. is finding a way to “reduce tensions in Bahrain and advance a political rapprochement,” while also preserving their naval presence.