ABU DHABI ø Bahrain has bolstered security amid concern that Western
nationals will come under attack by Islamic insurgents over the New Year.
Bahraini officials said the kingdom plans to deploy police, anti-riot
squads and security forces to Manama for the New Year holiday. They said
authorities have braced for the prospect of Islamic attacks on Western
tourists and soldiers who plan to celebrate Christmas and New Year in
nightclubs and bars.
The United States has warned its nationals to avoid travel to Bahrain
over the holiday season, Middle East Newsline reported. The State Department has raised the prospect of an
attack on Americans and Western tourists in the Gulf Cooperation Council
"The United States government has received terrorist threat information
specific to Bahrain," the U.S. embassy in Manama said. "The U.S. embassy in
Manama encourages all American citizens to avoid places where Westerners are
known to congregate and to reduce unnecessary travel. The embassy is seeking
more information on this threat."
Over the last year, Bahrain was rocked by a series of riots against
Westerners in Manama. Last week, scores of Bahrainis rampaged through
Manama in what began as a peaceful demonstration in the capital. The rioters
smashed shop windows and led chants against the ruling family.
On New Year 2003, more than 2,000 Islamic militants, most of them
Shi'ites, attacked Westerners on the streets and in hotels in downtown
Manama. Officials said the riot was planned, with Shi'ites recruited to
travel to Manama for the unrest.
Officials said authorities plan to impose tough penalties for anybody
who attacks Westerners over New Year. At the same time, authorities have
also warned nightclubs to keep their revelry indoors to avoid angering
"This is an Islamic country and any celebration that flouts Islamic
values and society's traditions should be banned to ensure that such an
incident doesn't happen again," Bahraini parliamentarian Ali Saadi said. "We
are not in the West. We are in Bahrain."