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Bahrain hiring mercenaries, scholar claims

Bahrain hiring mercenaries, scholar claims
Bahraini riot police officers watch demonstrations in Riffa, south of the capital Manama on March 11, 2011. UPI/Isa Ebrahim | License Photo

WASHINGTON, June 21 (UPI) -- Mercenaries from Indonesia, Malaysia and Pakistan are being recruited by officials in Bahrain to help restore security to the country, a Saudi scholar claimed.

Bahrain is under increasing scrutiny for the response by the Sunni minority leadership to a Shiite uprising in the country. Doctors without Borders claimed that Bahraini security officials were using hospitals as torture chambers as part of a crackdown.

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Ali al-Ahmad, director of the Institute for Gulf Affairs, told Radio Australia's Contact Asia program that the royal family was recruiting mercenaries from Asia to help with its crackdown.

Ahmad said there were no Shiites in the national security forces. Given the fact that Sunnis are in the minority, he said, the country has a "need to import mercenaries" from other places.

He claimed "the majority of them" are coming from Pakistan, though he said he's seen reports of some from countries such as Somalia, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Washington was criticized for its support for Bahrain, which hosts the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet. Bahrain, however, was recently added to the country's list of human rights abusers.

Bahrain had called on Saudi and other forces to help restore security early this year. Victoria Nuland, the spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department, said Bahrain, as a sovereign state, has the right to ask for outside support though Washington felt dialogue was the best way forward.

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