Rights group says Bahrain arrests 20 before Gran Prix

April 10, 2013 14:23

DUBAI - Human Rights Watch said on Wednesday that police had arrested 20 opposition activists in towns near Bahrain's Formula One circuit in a sign of rising political tension before the Grand Prix on April 21.

The Bahrain government denied any arrests had taken place.

The Gulf Arab state, where the US Navy's Fifth Fleet is based, has been hit by unrest since pro-democracy protests broke out in early 2011, putting it in the front line of the region-wide tussle between Shi'ite Muslim Iran and Sunni Arab states such as Saudi Arabia.

Watched by millions around the world, the Grand Prix is the biggest sporting event hosted by the US-allied country and the government is hoping for a big turnout at this year's event despite continuing violent unrest.

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