Bahrain stepping up sea patrolling
Gulf Daily News, Manama, Bahrain
Security has been beefed up at sea with two armed checkpoints set up off the Northern coast of Bahrain towards Iran.
Three patrol boats will also assist the manned checkpoints, which have been designed to combat illegal activities at sea, including drug smuggling and human trafficking.
Fishermen have also been banned from sailing towards the northern part of the country after 6pm.
It follows the seizure of a huge quantity of weapons and bomb-making material being smuggled from Iraq into the country on a boat with two Bahrainis on board.
Police also intercepted a boat service helping fugitives escape Bahrain by sea to Iran through Karranah village during a major anti-terrorism operation conducted over two days.
Coastguard teams carried out a joint operation with the Royal Bahrain Naval Force, which included one of the biggest weapons seizures at sea.
"In the northern part of Bahrain there are two floating checkpoints that operate round-the-clock, monitoring movement at sea and conducting sea patrols," said a Coastguard official.
"There are three patrol boats that assist the checkpoints and remain in constant touch with the main operation rooms for security and support."
He said the main operations room uses sophisticated radars and cameras to track down any movement.
"We have radars and cameras that are able to capture any movement out there and communicate with the floating checkpoints and speed patrol boats, if there is any emergency," he explained.
Items confiscated included Iranian-made explosives, Syrian bomb detonators, Kalashnikovs, C-4 explosives, Claymores, a PK machine gun, hand grenades, circuit boards for use in bomb making, armour-piercing explosives, TNT and a raft of other materials used to manufacture bombs.
Seventeen people, including a Saudi national, were arrested during the successful operation, some of whom have admitted to receiving weapons training in Iraq and Iran.
Thirteen fugitives who tried to escape in a 29-foot boat fitted with two 200hp engines were spotted heading north from Karranah towards Iran, before they were intercepted 16km off the mainland.
"There is no need to increase patrolling in this area as we can use the radars for any movement," added the official.
The village coast was also the destination of a boat carrying large quantities of weapons and explosives that was intercepted 3.2km off the coast of Karranah village, located near the Budaiya Highway, with two Bahrainis on board.
The boat was found to be carrying 38 C4 explosives, 31 Claymores, hand grenades, 30 Nokia mobile phones, a Thuraya satellite phone with SIM card, a PK machine gun with 12 cartridges, 29 circuit boards for use in bomb making, two boxes of ignition capsules, six explosive devices containing magnets, 12 armour-piercing explosives and other explosives including TNT.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson from the Combined Maritime Force (CMF) that patrols 2.5 million square miles of international waters said they would respond in case of any threats.
"Our procedures will continue to be responsive, appropriate and proportionate as each situation requires," the spokesperson told the GDN.
After foiling the weapons smuggling operation, police conducted three raids on suspected arms warehouses in Quraya village, also near the Budaiya Highway.
In one location they found a huge quantity of explosives, another 56 commercial detonators made in Syria, a gun, six Kalashnikovs and material used in bomb making.