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Bahrain says foiled 'terrorist attack' backed by Iran in early 2020

Interior ministry said attack had been planned to avenge the January killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani
Bahrain said the planned attack was backed by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (AFP)

Bahrain's interior ministry said on Sunday it had foiled a "terrorist attack" early this year that was backed by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

The statement confirmed earlier media reports about an alleged planned attack and added a timeframe.

Earlier on Sunday, Saudi state television station Al-Ekhbariya and Bahraini newspaper Akhbar al-Khaleej reported that interior ministry investigations found that a new group called the "Qassem Soleimani Brigade" had planned to attack several public and security structures in Bahrain.

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Akhar al-Khaleej said the foiled attacks had been planned to avenge the January killing in Iraq of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani by a US drone strike in Baghdad.

It said security forces foiled the plot after finding an explosive device in the Badei area meant to target a visiting foreign delegation. 

The newspaper said a case was being prepared against 18 accused individuals, of whom nine are now in Iran. 

"We want to make clear that this case goes back to early 2020 and it is currently being looked into by the relevant court," the ministry statement said.

Iranian authorities were not immediately available for comment. In the past, Tehran has denied any involvement in Bahrain's domestic affairs.

Bahrain, host to the US Navy's Fifth Fleet and other international naval operations, has often accused Iran of seeking to subvert the kingdom, which has a Shia majority but is ruled by Sunnis.

It was the only Gulf Arab state to witness a sizeable pro-democracy uprising in the 2011 "Arab Spring," from a largely Shia opposition movement, which it quashed with Saudi and Emirati help.