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Bahrain arrests 25 suspects in jailbreak investigation

Suspects charged with 'joining terrorist organisation' and 'training to commit terrorism attacks' in probe linked to mass breakout at Jau prison
Bahrain said the arrests had helped break up a 'terrorist network' (AFP)

Bahrain said Saturday that it had arrested 25 people it accuses of involvement in unrest in the kingdom, including a deadly jailbreak.

The authorities said they were part of a "terrorist organisation" that includes 54 members, some of them fugitives in Iraq and Iran - accused repeatedly by Manama of meddling in its internal affairs.

The alleged members include 10 former inmates who escaped in the 1 January storming of Jau prison, Bahrain's general prosecutor Ahmed al-Hammadi said in a statement carried by state news agency BNA.

One of them was shot dead last month along with two men as they allegedly tried to flee the country by boat.

Bahrain has been shaken by unrest pitting its Shia-majority population against its Sunni Muslim rulers.

A 2011 uprising seeking a constitutional monarchy and an elected prime minister was crushed with deadly force.

The Shia opposition has since been banned and many of its leaders given long jail terms, several of them on "terrorism" charges.

The 25 suspects have been charged with "joining a terrorist organisation" and "training on using explosives and firearms to commit terror attacks," Hammadi said.

They are also accused of killing two police, including one during the 1 January jailbreak, and the attempted murder of others, as well as importing and possessing explosives and firearms.

The suspects were also accused of escaping from jail or helping others to flee and hide.

The statement said four suspects denied the charges, while the rest confessed to being guilty.

Police found "large quantities of explosives, detonators and hand grenades," in addition to four AK-47 assault rifles and seven pistols, the statement said.

One of the suspected members of the organisation lives in Germany and has "arranged travel for members of the organisation to Iran and Iraq to train on using explosives and machine guns," Hammadi said.

He said the training took place in the bases of Iran's Revolutionary Guards with the aim of "preparing to carry out terrorist crimes inside the country".

Twelve people remain in Iran and Iraq, the statement said.