Bahrain arrests 15 for trying to sow Ashura ‘chaos’

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The Sunni-ruled Gulf state of Bahrain has arrested 15 people it accuses of attempting to “cause chaos” during Shiite religious commemorations that culminated last Thursday, police said.

Officers detained “15 vandals for indulging in abusive activities to cause chaos” over the 10 days of Ashura with funding from Iran, a police statement said late Tuesday.

It did not give further details of the alleged offences during the commemorations, which mark the seventh century killing of Imam Hussein, grandson of the prophet Mohammed, the decisive event in the split between the two branches of the Muslim faith.

Police released the names and photographs of the 15 detainees, all of them apparently young.

The statement alleged that the accused had received funds from Shiite Iran through Bahraini political exiles.

“An investigation revealed the Iranian Revolutionary Guards financed the operation through terrorists living as fugitives in Iran, mainly the members of the February 14 group,” it said.

The Shiite-led February 14 Coalition organised mass protests in 2011 demanding an elected government and an end to the domination of the Sunni minority Al-Khalifa family.

They were bloodily suppressed a month later, triggering a crackdown that has seen Bahrain’s two main opposition groups outlawed and their leaders thrown behind bars or forced into exile.

Bahrain has stepped up its longstanding allegations of Iranian involvement in recent days as the US administration of Donald Trump has sought international support for his increasingly tough line against Tehran.

Earlier on Tuesday, Bahrain’s attorney general charged 169 people with “forming a terrorist organisation” in collaboration with Iran.

In May, Trump abandoned a landmark 2015 nuclear agreement between major powers and Tehran saying that it failed to address Iran’s ballistic missile programme or its “destabilisation efforts” in the region.

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