U.S. officials are warning servicemembers stationed here about increased protest activity ahead of national elections.
Parliamentary and municipal elections are being held Saturday and Nov. 29 throughout the kingdom, which is home to the U.S. Navy 5th Fleet and about 8,200 U.S. personnel and family members.
The Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, Bahrain’s main opposition group, has questioned the legitimacy of the elections and promised to boycott them.
Bahrain has experienced sporadic unrest since February 2011 when authorities crushed the Shiite-dominated opposition movement, which took to the streets to demand greater political rights from the Sunni monarchy.
In an anti-terrorism force protection notice posted on 5th Fleet’s Facebook page, officials also warned to be careful about suspicious packages, tire fires and clashes with police during the pre-election and election days. The message urged U.S. personnel to stay away from polling station areas, which include several popular venues, such as malls, that Americans typically visit.
Bahrain’s security officials are expected to boost security around the country during the elections. Security personnel have prepared for various scenarios and will monitor groups and individuals who may try to disrupt the elections, the Interior Ministry said Wednesday in a news release.
On Tuesday, a taxi was gutted in a Molotov cocktail attack in a village in the eastern part of the island. No injuries were reported.