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Bahrain accuses 24 of forming IS cell

A new group claiming to be the Bahraini branch of Islamic State said they were responsible for a deadly shooting in Saudi Arabia
A screen grab shows purported Bahraini IS member claiming responsibility for attack in Saudi (Twitter)

Bahrain on Wednesday charged 24 people with forming a cell of the Islamic State group, plotting suicide attacks and recruiting fighters for the militant organisation.

The move came after investigations into the formation of a "branch for a terrorist group... the so-called Daesh," said a prosecution statement, using the Arabic acronym for IS.

It comes after a video was posted online in which masked men claimed responsibility for a shooting in east Saudi Arabia on 16 October that killed five people. The men said they were part of a newly established IS group in Bahrain.

Sixteen of the 24 suspects remain at large.

Their charges include "forming a branch for a terrorist group... joining it, possessing weapons and explosives for terrorist aims, in addition to promoting the overthrow of the regime," said public prosecutor Ahmed al-Hammadi.

One of the defendants is accused of recruiting two others into IS, and helping one of them to travel to Syria where he received military training by the group, the prosecutor said.

The pair were also tasked with recruiting others who joined IS abroad.

The group also "plotted suicide attacks by members in Bahrain against worship places, like the attacks by the terrorist group in neighbouring countries," Hammadi said in an apparent reference to attacks on Shia mosques in Saudi Arabia.   

A court hearing has been set for 22 December.