Bahrain says a bomb explosion has claimed the life of a police officer and injured two others in a northwestern village on the Persian Gulf island.
The country’s Interior Ministry said the incident took place in the village of Diraz on Monday, blaming “terrorists” for the attack.
The village is home to the spiritual leader of the country’s Shia majority, Sheikh Isa Qassem (seen below).
Qassem has proven a major source of inspiration for the country’s peaceful protests against the ruling regime’s abuse of power. Scores of people have died in the ongoing crackdown on demonstrations.
Back in May, a Bahraini court convicted Qassem of illegal collection of funds and money laundering and sentenced him to one year in jail suspended for three years. It also ordered him to pay $265,266 in fines. The charges emanate from the collection of an Islamic donation called Khums, which in Shia Islam is gathered and spent by a senior cleric in the interests of the needy.
The authorities had already stripped Qassem of his citizenship.
Qassem’s residence in the village has been under siege by regime forces in the face of a sit-in held outside the building ever since the regime revoked his citizenship.
On May 23, Bahraini forces carried out a heavy-handed raid against the village, killing five people, arresting 280 others, and storming Qassem’s house.
Bahrain is a close ally of regional heavyweight Saudi Arabia, who has lent troops to the crackdown. It is also home to the US Navy’s 5th Fleet and an under-construction British naval base.
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