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17 Bahrain schools targeted in attacks

Molotov cocktails, stones used in assaults

Gulf News

Manama: Bahrain’s education ministry said that 17 government-run schools have been targeted in attacks since the start of the academic year in September.

“Molotov cocktails were used in most of the assaults on school buildings,” a ministry official said. “Safety equipment was often stolen from schools during the attacks that occurred mainly during the weekend,” the official said.

The ministry said that the wave of attacks has prompted it to install surveillance cameras around schools and to increase the number of watchmen.

“We had 87 attacks in the last school year, especially in the central and northern governorates,” the official said in a statement.

“We suffered heavy financial losses, but these pale in comparison with how the morale of students has been affected. We now have students who are afraid to go to school on the day after the attacks target their schools, especially if Molotov cocktails were used or fires started,” he said.

Incidents this year included hurling Molotov cocktails and stones at glass windows and doors, starting fires, breaking doors and stealing safety equipment stored in rooms to deal with emergency cases, the statement said.

“It is highly unfortunate that schools are attacked because they are considered soft targets that do not resort to heavy protection since they are mainly in the direct service of the community and the community is morally in charge of protecting them,” the official said.

The official said that the ministry was keen on moving ahead with the daily lessons without disruption despite the attacks.

“We try to make sure that the assaults do not really affect the daily routine and the students’ attendance,” he said.

Bahrain has witnessed a wave of unrest since February 2011 that has deeply divided the country, often alongside sectarian faults.

Attempts to overcome the deepening divide by launching a nationwide dialogue have often been foiled by radicals.

However, last month saw the first significant contact between several political formations across the country’s landscape to start the much-coveted dialogue.

Held under the auspices of a think-tank, the one-day forum was used by delegates to air their grievances and concerns and to speak of their hopes before agreeing on the need to work together to move forward in their attempt to address the country’s worst social and political crisis in modern times.