5 killed, 286 held in Bahrain raid on Shiite cleric's town

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The raid continues a crackdown on dissidents by Bahrain's Sunni authorities, who have targeted activists and prominent members of the country's Shiite majority since political uprisings swept the region in 2011.

A US State Department official said Washington was "concerned" by the reports of protesters killed and was following events in Bahrain very closely.

"Yet again the architects of bloody destabilizing violence in Bahrain appear to be the Al Khalifa government, and the timing of this operation - two days after [Bahraini] King Hamad's [bin Isa Al Khalifa] convivial meeting with [US] President [Donald] Trump - can hardly be a coincidence", the group said in a statement on Tuesday, according to Press TV.

Meanwhile, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the deadly crackdown by Bahraini forces on protesters was the "first concrete result" of US President Donald Trump "cozying up to despots" in Saudi Arabia.

On Sunday, the Fourth Great Criminal court in Bahrain gave Ayatollah Sheikh Issa Qassem one year suspended prison sentence, as it ruled to confiscate the Khums money and two other land properties as well.

May 23 Bahrain's interior ministry said it had launched a security operation on Tuesday in the home village of the country's Shi'ite Muslim spiritual leader, the site of a sit-in encampment of his followers.

Qassim has been held by authorities since a year ago and was stripped off his citizenship in June following accusations that he is spreading extremism.

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It said the United States had "blood on its hands" for supplying arms to Bahrain despite what it called an "intensified repressive campaign on civil society in Bahrain".

Ebtasam Alsaegh, from the neighbouring village of Bani Jamra, said mosques were calling residents onto the streets to protect Qassim. Tehran has often denied such allegations.

The government's clampdown on dissent has drawn harsh condemnation from global rights groups and governments.

In his first visit overseas to the Saudi capital Riyadh, U.S. President Donald Trump said on Sunday Washington's relations with Bahrain were set to improve, after tensions with his predecessor Barack Obama over the kingdom's rights record.

Dooley described the raid on protesters as "deeply disturbing", urging security forces "not to attack peaceful protestors".

BIRD says Manama has escalated its repression since mid-2016.

Bahrain's parliament in March voted unanimously to grant military courts the right to try civilians charged with any act of "terrorism".

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