Shia-Sunni riots erupt in Bahrain

Shia-Sunni riots erupt in Bahrain

DUBAI: A municipal building was set ablaze overnight in Sunni-ruled Bahrain, the government said on Monday, as fresh violence erupted over the executions of three Shias convicted of a deadly bomb attack on police.

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The fire in the building at Shamalia, in the Shia area of Aali south of the capital Manama, was eventually brought under control, said the interior ministry, without explicitly linking it to the executions.

“According to initial reports, the fire was intentional and the specialised services are taking the necessary measures,” the ministry wrote on Twitter.

The blaze came after three Shias were put to death by firing squad on Sunday over the bomb attack on police in 2014, sparking clashes between angry protesters and security forces.

The confrontations continued overnight, with dozens of men and women marching through the streets of Sanabes village chanting slogans against the Al-Khalifa dynasty, according to witnesses. Demonstrators tried to reach the main street of Sanabes, the hometown of the three executed men.

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Sanabes is the closest Shia village to the Pearl roundabout which was the epicentre of a month-long Shia-led uprising that the security forces crushed in mid-March 2011. The square’s famous monument was razed to the ground after the protesters were driven out. Protests turned violent overnight in several other Shia villages, according to other witnesses who said police opened fire to disperse demonstrators, wounding several of them.

Bahrain’s authorities do not permit international news agencies to cover events independently. The executions were criticised by international human rights groups, as well as Britain and the European Union. Iran and the Lebanese Shia movement Hezbollah strongly condemned the executions.

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Bahrain, which has been ruled by the Al-Khalifas for more than two centuries, has a majority Shia population which has long complained of marginalisation. It has been rocked by sporadic unrest since the Gulf-backed security forces brutally crushed the Arab Spring-inspired uprising in 2011.