Bahraini security forces on Tuesday raided the home of the kingdom’s Shi’ite Muslim spiritual leader and shot dead at least one demonstrator during the operation.
Ayatollah Isa Qassim was not among the 50 people arrested during the raid, but the move is likely to raise tensions in Bahrain days after U.S. President Donald Trump said Washington’s relationship with the Sunni-ruled kingdom – long strained over its human rights record – would improve.
“The operation in Diraz was based on intel that several fugitives connected to serious acts of terrorism and the killing of a policeman were harbored in the village,” a security official told Reuters, adding that six people were arrested from the cleric’s home.
Bahrain’s interior ministry issued a statement later saying that five people had died during the raid and 286 had been arrested.
Qassim faces expulsion from the kingdom after authorities revoked his citizenship last year for alleged links to Iran and fomenting violence, charges he has denied.
Rights activists say the revocation of Qassim’s citizenship was part of a crackdown by the Sunni-ruled kingdom on the mainly Shi’ite Muslim opposition which had been seeking a greater say in running the country.
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