DOHA // A Bahraini woman died and three children sustained minor injuries in southern Bahrain when their car was hit by a bomb blast that police have blamed on “terrorists”.
Shrapnel hit the car after the bomb exploded, police said. Security forces were investigating the scene of the attack, which took place on Thursday in the village of East Eker, south of Manama.
The attack was widely condemned by Gulf Arab countries and the rest of the Arab world.
On Friday, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, condemned in the strongest possible terms “this heinous terrorist crime that targeted unsuspecting people in contrary to all human values, the principles and tenets of Islamic Sharia”.
Sheikh Abdullah said the UAE gave its full support to Bahrain and stood in solidarity with the kingdom, according to the UAE’s state news agency, Wam.
He also called for the stepping up of efforts to counter terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.
A source at the Saudi ministry of foreign affairs, meanwhile, expressed the kingdom’s strong condemnation and denunciation of the attack, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
It said Saudi Arabia stood with Bahrain and offered condolences to the victim’s family, the government and people of Bahrain.
Kuwait and the Arab Parliament also denounced the attack, according to the Kuwait News Agency.
The Arab Parliament’s Emirati president, Ahmad Al Jarwan, was quoting as saying that “more international cooperation is needed to combat terror acts, which cause instability and loss of innocent lives”.
Sporadic violence and bomb attacks have become the norm in Sunni-ruled Bahrain since Shiite-led pro-democracy protests were put down by the government in 2011. Attacks are mostly aimed at Bahraini security forces, however.
Last July, two policemen in the Shiite village of Sitra were killed in a bomb blast that authorities said involved the use of explosives smuggled from Iran.
Tehran denies interference in Bahrain but openly supports opposition groups seeking greater rights for the kingdom’s Shiite majority.
Manama has stepped up its crackdown on the opposition in recent weeks. Already this month authorities have closed down the main Shiite opposition society, detained prominent rights campaigner Nabeel Rajab and stripped the spiritual leader of the country’s Shiite majority of his citizenship.
On Friday, Dr Anwar Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, said on Twitter that “violence and sectarianism reveal the truth about the [Bahraini] opposition and its foreign links”.
“Violence and shameless sectarian incitement in Bahrain have external agendas. The government’s firmness and the king’s reformist orientation will win,” he added.
On Thursday, seven US senators sent a letter to secretary of state John Kerry in which they said the United States should be prepared to reconsider arms sales to Bahrain if the kingdom’s crackdown on its opposition continues.
* With reporting by Reuters