Manama: Bahrain has withdrawn its ambassador to Iran and asked the Iranian Acting Charge d’Affaires to leave the kingdom within 72 hours after he was declared persona non-grata.

“In light of the continued Iranian interference in the affairs of the Kingdom of Bahrain without any legal deterrent or moral limits as well as its unlawful attempts and practices to create sectarian strife and impose its hegemony and control over the entire region through reprehensible tools and means that are not limited to offending statements from senior officials, but also include supporting subversion, terrorism and incitement to violence through misleading media campaigns as well as assisting terrorist groups in the smuggling of weapons and explosives, and training their members, and harbouring fugitives from justice, and in the face of Iran's repeated and blatant violation of all norms, laws and international conventions and principles of good neighbourliness, mutual respect and unacceptable infringement on the independence and sovereignty of the Kingdom of Bahrain, Bahrain has decided to recall its ambassador to the Islamic Republic of Iran Rashid Saad Al Dossary and to consider Mr. Mohammad Reza Babai, Acting Charge d’Affaires at the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the Kingdom, persona non grata and ask him to leave the country within 72 hours,” the ministry said.

Bahrain on Wednesday evening said security authorities seized an unprecedented amount of internationally-sourced explosives and bomb-making materials that were to be used in terror attacks by suspects who “hold strong connections with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and Hezbollah.”

 “Authorities uncovered a sophisticated bomb-manufacturing facility that contained in excess of 1.5 tonnes of high-grade explosives, including C4-RDX, TNT, and other powerful chemical explosives in a counter-terrorism operation at a warehouse in a residential area in Nuwaidrat,” the Ministry of Interior said.

“The facility had been adapted to accommodate an elaborate network of hidden underground bunkers and an above-ground manufacturing operation.” Nuwaidrat is a village about 10 kilometres south of the capital Manama.

Suspects arrested

The ministry said that a number of individuals suspected of being responsible for assembling and concealing explosive materials in the warehouse have been arrested, and “as with previous incidents throughout 2015, the terror suspects hold strong connections with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and Hezbollah.”

“This significant discovery marks yet another disturbing incident in which relentless Iranian actions are attempting to undermine security and stability within Bahrain and the wider region,” Chief of Police Major-General Tariq Al Hassan said.

Bahrain on March 15, 2011 had recalled Ambassador Al Dossary after it accused Iran of “blatant interference in Bahrain’s domestic affairs.”

Iran in a statement had criticised the arrival of troops from the Peninsula Shield, the military arm of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), in Bahrain. The Iranian statement was also rejected by other GCC countries.

Tehran recalled its envoy in Manama in a tit-for-tat move one day after the Bahraini envoy was summoned home.

However, Bahrain reinstated Ambassador Al Dossary in August 2012 following a 17-month absence.