Cablegate: Police Officer Killed in Street Violence

DE RUEHMK #0236/01 1011503
O 101503Z APR 08

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANAMA 000236



E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/10/2018

REF: A. MANAMA 163 B. 07 MANAMA 1113 C. 07 MANAMA 1110 D. 07 MANAMA 1033 Classified By: Acting DCM Steven R. Butler, reasons 1.4(b) and (d).

1.(C) Summary. Two violent incidents occurred overnight April 9, including one involving the killing of a police officer. Mainstream Shi'a political society Al-Wifaq is preparing a strong denunciation of the violence. The death of a police officer reflects a recent escalation in tactics by the Shi'a youth who continue to engage in violent confrontations with security forces. End Summary. ------------------------ OFFICER DEAD IN KARZAKAN ------------------------

2.(U) A policeman was killed and two other officers wounded April 9 when masked assailants hurled stones and a Molotov cocktail at a patrol car in the Bahraini village of Karzakan. No group or individual has claimed responsibility, however one local paper carried a front-page editorial intimating that Hassan Musheima, leader of the Haq Movement, was indirectly to blame for having repeatedly incited Shi'a youth to violence against the government. The incident marked the first civil disturbance-related death since December 2007, when a Shi'a man from the village of Jidhafs died of an apparent heart attack after involvement in a clash with security forces (ref C). Following that incident, a policeman was severely beaten, and his service weapon stolen, by a mob in clashes with Shi'a protestors in Jidhafs several days later (ref B).

3.(C) Ministry of Interior Joint Counter Terrorism Center Director Major Mohammed Abdulla Al-Haram told Emboff April 10 that on the prior evening, three officers had been on patrol in an unmarked vehicle in Karzakan when they came under attack by a gang of some 30 masked assailants who pelted their vehicle with stones. One of the officers was killed when a rock hit him in the head. The other two pulled him from the vehicle and sustained minor injuries. An attacker then hit the police vehicle with a Molotov cocktail, sending it up in flames.

4.(SBU) Bahraini law enforcement officials have previously expressed concern that e-mails circulating among Shi'a proclaiming the "Youth Resistance Movement" and displaying photos and license plates of unmarked security cars might lead Molotov cocktail throwers to target these vehicles (ref D). It is not presently known if the vehicle attacked in Karzakan had been identified in such an e-mail.

5.(U) The Prime Minister condemned the Karzakan attack and called for stepped-up efforts to bring the perpetrators to justice and prevent such attacks from recurring. Referring to pent-up frustrations within the Shi'a community he said, "Proper channels are now available for people to air grievances under the reform project initiated by the King." (Note: Embassy sources indicate that four suspects have been taken into custody in connection with the Karzakan attack. End Note.)

6.(U) Karzakan has been the frequent site of weekend clashes between Shi'a youth and security forces. Molotov cocktails have often been used and have been hurled at police there in the past. On March, 30 masked individuals used Molotov cocktails to set fire to buildings on a farm owned by prominent ruling family member Abdulaziz bin Atiyatallah Al-Khalifa near Karzakan. --------------------------------- GAS CYLINDER EXPLOSION IN MA'MEER ---------------------------------

7.(U) In a separate incident on the evening of April 9, vandals used a gas cylinder to blow up a car in the village of Ma'meer injuring two people. Ministry of Interior Deputy Chief of Public Security Brigadier Tariq bin Daina said in the Bahrain Tribune (an English language daily) that the case was under investigation and promised that the perpetrators would be punished. ----------------------------------- AL-WIFAQ POISED TO CONDEMN VIOLENCE -----------------------------------

8.(C) Al-Wifaq Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Sayed MANAMA 00000236 002 OF 002 Sayeed Al-Majid told Emboff April 10 that bloc parliamentary leader Sheikh Ali Salman will issue a statement April 11 in which he will strongly condemn the Karzakan attack as illegal and contrary to religious values. According to Al-Majid, the statement will call on the Ministry of Interior to conduct a transparent and fair investigation with a view toward punishing the specific perpetrators of the incident. ------- COMMENT -------

9.(C) Given violent Shi'a oppositionists, continued use of Molotov cocktails, the April 9 fatality in Karzakan was likely just a matter of time. Security forces have responded to prior attacks with restraint, using less-than-lethal means to respond to potentially lethal attacks (including Molotovs). We expect this will continue, but note that we seem to be witnessing an escalation in the tactics of the instigators. Over the past two weeks, we have seen evidence that those involved in the disturbances have added sharpened rebar to their repertoire, using them as spears. While no police officer has actually fired a live round at demonstrators in recent memory, the latest incident will undoubtedly raise tensions. If the instigators of the street violence continue to up the ante, the police may be forced into a stronger response simply to protect themselves. End Comment. ********************************************* ******** Visit Embassy Manama's Classified Website: XXXXXXXXXXXX********************************************* ******** ERELI

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