Middle East

US resumes some Bahrain arms sales for 'external defence'

Bahrain protest Feb 2011
The US says the equipment it is supplying will not be used against protesters

The United States is resuming sales of some weapons to Bahrain, but says it will not supply the Gulf state with any crowd control equipment.

The US State Department says the shipment will help Bahrain "maintain its external defence capabilities."

Arms sales were frozen last year after the Bahraini government suppressed pro-democracy demonstrations.

Amnesty International says 60 people have been killed since the protests began in February 2011.

It is thought a frigate and other coast guard vessels will be supplied, along with upgraded engines for F-16 fighters.

The State Department says an order for Humvee all-terrain vehicles and a new type of wire-guided missile will not be included.

Bahrain is a key US ally in the Gulf, hosting the US Navy's Fifth Fleet.

Officials in Washington say the Obama administration still has concerns about human rights in Bahrain.

But human rights campaigners have condemned this move, saying it is out of step with the United States' commitment to reform in Bahrain.