DUBAI: A Bahraini court yesterday issued sentences of up to life in prison for 26 Shiites over the attempted murder of policemen in the Sunni-ruled kingdom, a judicial source said. Twenty of the defendants were jailed for life while the rest were each handed 15-year prison terms, the source said.

They were found guilty of forming a “terrorist group” between 2011 and 2013 and attempting to kill policemen in the Shiite village of Diraz, west of Manama. Villages of the Shiite majority have been scene to frequent protests and clashes since in March 2011, when security forces crushed nationwide protests demanding political reforms. Police last month opened fire to disperse a months-long sit-in in Diraz, killing five people in the crackdown.

The tiny Gulf state is a key regional ally of the United States and is home to its Fifth Fleet, but the administration of former president Barack Obama often scolded Manama over rights concerns. In another case, a court in Manama jailed a Bahraini for 10 years and revoked his citizenship for joining the Islamic State Sunni extremist group, a public prosecution statement said. —AFP