Bahrain says foiled 'terrorist attack' backed by Iran in early 2020
Adds interior ministry statement, timeframe
DUBAI, Sept 20 (Reuters) - Bahrain's interior ministry said on Sunday it had foiled a "terrorist attack" early this year that was backed by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
The statement confirmed earlier media reports about an alleged planned attack and added a timeframe.
Earlier on Sunday Saudi state television Al-Ekhbariya and Bahraini newspaper Akhbar al-Khaleej reported that interior ministry investigations found that a new group called the "Qassem Soleimani Brigade" had planned to attack several public and security structures in Bahrain. The reports had not given a timeframe.
"We want to make clear that this case goes back to early 2020 and it is currently being looked into by the relevant court," the ministry statement said.
Iranian authorities were not immediately available for comment. In the past, Tehran has denied any involvement in Bahrain's domestic affairs.
Bahrain, host to the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet and other international naval operations, has often accused Shi'ite Muslim Iran of seeking to subvert the kingdom, which has a Shi'ite majority and is ruled by Sunnis.
It was the only Gulf Arab state to witness a sizeable pro-democracy uprising in the 2011 "Arab Spring", from a largely Shi'ite opposition movement, which it quashed with Saudi and Emirati help.
The report by Akhar al-Khaleej said the foiled attacks had been planned to avenge the January killing in Iraq of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani by a U.S. drone strike.
It said security forces foiled the plot after finding an explosive device in the Badei area meant to target a visiting foreign delegation. The newspaper said a case was being prepared against 18 accused individuals, of whom nine are now in Iran.
(Reporting by Hadeel Al Sayegh; Writing by Maha El Dahan; Editing by Philippa Fletcher and Daniel Wallis)
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