Saudi Arabia defends Bahrain’s crackdown on Shiite protesters

Saudi Arabia on Wednesday defended the actions of Bahraini authorities who opened fire on a protest by supporters of a top Shiite cleric, killing five people.

The security of Bahrain “is an integral part” of Saudi security, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) quoted a source in the Kingdom’s Foreign Ministry as saying.

“The source affirmed the support of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the measures being taken,” including in Diraz village near the capital Manama, it said.

These measures are to “address all terrorist attempts aimed at destabilizing and damaging” security and order, it added.

Bahrain’s Interior Ministry said in a Twitter message: “Five deaths have been registered among the outlaws” in Diraz, near the capital of Manama, where the police opened fire to disperse the sit-in outside the home of cleric Isa Qassim.

“A total of 286 arrests were made, including fugitives that had escaped from Jau Prison,” the ministry said.

“Several terrorists and convicted felons were also apprehended with a large number of them hiding in the residence of Isa Qassim,” it added.

Several members of the security forces were injured, it said.

Witnesses had earlier told AFP that several people were wounded when police officers fired at demonstrators throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at security forces.

A US State Department official told AFP: “We urge restraint on all sides in responding to today’s developments and call on all parties to contribute to a climate conducive for dialogue and reconciliation.”

A court last year ordered the dissolution of Bahrain’s main opposition group Al-Wefaq after authorities accused it of “harboring terrorism.”

Bahrain’s Parliament in March voted unanimously to grant military courts the right to try civilians charged with any act of “terrorism.”