• Bahrain Grand Prix

Tensions rise in Bahrain as police clamp down on dissent

ESPN Staff
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Fires burn during an anti-regime protest outside Manama on Monday © Getty Images

Police in Bahrain have fired tear gas and clashed with students in a raid on a secondary school in Manama as the Formula One circus arrives for this weekend's grand prix.

The incident happened when students at a boys' school started protesting after a classmate, 17-year-old Hassan Humidan, was arrested on Monday. Police officers stormed the building as activists tweeted pictures which appeared to show clouds of tear gas as well as dozens of spent canisters of gas and stun grenades. Unconfirmed reports said there had been injuries.

Anti-regime organisations claim that more than 100 people have been detained as the authorities clamp down on dissent ahead of the race weekend. The build-up has been less tense than in 2011, when the grand prix was cancelled, and 2012 but tensions have risen in recent days.

A picture purporting to show teargas and stun grenade shells used on students published by the opposition February 14 group © Twitter

On Monday, a car bomb exploded in Manama's financial district but nobody was hurt. "A terrorist group used a gas cylinder to burn a car in Manama at night on Sunday causing an explosion, causing no damage," an official statement read.

Bahrain's February 14, a youth opposition movement, claimed responsibility saying it wanted to "disrupt activity in Manama's financial centre in opposition to holding the Formula One race".

In London,an all-party parliamentary committee of MPs called for sponsors and drivers to withdraw from the race and for Bernie Ecclestone to cancel it.

"There is a close relationship between the race and repression by a regime that is using F1 to try and establish normalcy," the chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Democracy in Bahrain, Andy Slaughter, told the BBC.

He said the grand prix was nothing but a "propaganda exercise", adding: "The irony is that this week the level of repression, which goes on week in, week out, is stepped up in a bid to say that it's business as usual."