A raid by government forces in Bahrain against a pro-opposition stronghold has left at least five people dead and hundreds detained in one of the deadliest crackdowns since protests erupted in 2011 against the Persian Gulf nation’s Western-backed monarchy.

Bahrain’s Interior Ministry said it carried out the raid Tuesday in the village of Duraz. It said officers came under attack, including from assailants armed with explosives.

Opposition activists said the police targeted a peaceful sit-in outside the home of Bahrain’s leading Shiite cleric and that the dead included an environmental activist.

Protests and clashes have flared for years in the tiny but strategic island nation between the Sunni-led monarchy and Bahrain’s majority Shiite population, which has complained of discrimination and other abuses. Bahrain hosts the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet.

The timing of the raid was striking, coming two days after President Trump publicly assured the king of Bahrain that their relationship would be free of the kind of “strain” that had occurred in the past — an apparent reference to the Obama administration’s periodic chiding of Bahrain over its human rights violations.


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Featured image courtesy of AP