Jailbreak in Bahrain sparks security alert

Jailbreak in Bahrain sparks security alert
Seventeen prisoners have escaped a prison in Bahrain after they overpowered their guards and commandeered a bus, sparking a major manhunt on the small island state.
2 min read
04 June, 2016
Security has been tight on the island since protests erupted in 2011 [AFP]
Seventeen prisoners have broken out of a Bahrain prison causing security forces to launch a manhunt for the fugitives.

The jailbreak took place on the island of Muharraq, site of the Gulf state's main airport.

There was no immediate word on whether the prisoners were common criminals, Islamist extremists or political activists jailed in a sweeping five-year-old crackdown on dissidents, most from the Gulf country's Shia majority.

The interior ministry said police had recaptured some of the fugitives but gave no details on how many remained at large.

It said the breakout happened at the al-Hadd detention centre near the Muharraq dry dock on Saturday evening.

Bahrain's Akhbar al-Khaleej newspaper said around 20 prisoners had escaped.

"They managed to seize a bus and get away after assaulting warders and police and wounding several of them," the paper said.

Police set up roadblocks on the causeways linking Muharraq to Bahrain's main island, where the capital Manama is located, the paper added.

The small, strategically important Gulf island state has been shaken by unrest since its Sunni minority rulers crushed a month-long, Shia-led uprising demanding reforms and democracy in 2011.

A Saudi-led GCC intervention force moved onto the island in 2011 when Bahraini security forces struggled to cope with a popular uprising.

Protests still take place and protesters frequently clash with police, particularly in Shia villages outside the capital Manama.

The kingdom, which is connected to Saudi Arabia by a causeway, is home to the US Fifth Fleet and a close ally to Riyadh.