Bahrain’s interior minister accused Iran of harbouring 160 Bahrainis convicted of terrorism and stripped of their citizenship, in an interview published on Wednesday.
All 160 “fugitives” had been stripped of citizenship in “terrorism cases” targeting Bahraini police and security forces, Sheikh Rashed Al-Khalifa told the Arabic-language daily Asharq Al-Awsat.
He accused Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards of having trained the group, who were convicted of attacks that killed 25 security personnel and wounded 3,000 others, according to Asharq Al-Awsat.
Bahrain, a Shiite-majority kingdom ruled by a Sunni dynasty, has seen sporadic violence since the repression in 2011 of a protest movement demanding a constitutional monarchy and an elected prime minister.
Authorities have since tightened their grip on dissent, jailing hundreds of protesters and stripping a string of high-profile activists and clerics of citizenship.
Bahrain has drawn harsh criticism for its treatment of demonstrators but maintains it does not discriminate against the country’s Shiites.
The kingdom, a key US ally located across the water from Iran, regularly accuses Shiite Iran of meddling in its internal affairs, an allegation Tehran denies.
US President Donald Trump has eased restrictions on arms sales to Bahrain, which on Tuesday announced it had signed a $3.8 billion deal with US company Lockheed Martin to acquire 16 upgraded F-16 fighters.
Bahrain is home to the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet and a British army base is currently under construction.