Bahrain arrests four Shia activists on security charges

Bahraini women shout slogans against imprisonment and trial of 35 Shia activists (20/02/2009) Previous arrests of Shia activists have led to widespread protests in Bahrain

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Authorities in Bahrain have arrested four Shia Muslim activists on security related charges, officials say.

One of those held is Abd al-Jalil Singace, head of the Shia-dominated Haq Movement for Liberty and Democracy.

He was arrested on his return from London where he had been giving a lecture on human rights in Bahrain.

Correspondents say the arrests could heighten tensions between the Sunni-led government and Bahrain's Shia majority ahead of elections in October.

The Shia community has long complained of discrimination.

Three of the arrests were made on Sunday, while Mr Singace was detained on Saturday, the BNA state news agency reported, citing officials.

Clashes

The other three were named as Abdulghani al-Kanjar, who heads a committee of Bahrain human rights groups, activist Saeed al-Nouri and Shia cleric and activist Sheikh Muhammad Habib Moqdad.

The four were taken into custody "over charges of forming... an organised network aiming to shake the security and stability of the country", BNA reported.

Nabeel Rajab, head of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, said that clashes erupted in at least two Shia villages following the arrest of Mr Singace.

Mr Singace and Mr Moqdad were among three activists held for several months in 2009 on charges of plotting to overthrow the government.

They later received a royal pardon after weeks of protests.

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