Bahrain jails 16 Shiites for life

A Bahraini court on Sunday jailed 16 Shiites for life and two others 10 years for an attack that wounded two policemen in a village near Manama, a judicial source said.

Authorities in the Sunni-ruled, but Shiite majority, kingdom, who have been facing a Shiite-led unrest since 2011, increased last year the penalties for those convicted of violence, introducing the death penalty or life sentences in certain cases.

Those sentenced Sunday were charged with "possessing molotov cocktails and using them to attack police" in the Shiite village of Athari earlier this month, the source said.

They were also accused of "burning down a vehicle belonging to the interior ministry" and "taking part in an unauthorised protest."

Bahrain, home to the US Fifth Fleet, remains deeply divided three years after a quashed Shiite-led uprising, with persistent protests sparking clashes with police, scores of Shiites jailed on "terror" charges and reconciliation talks deadlocked.

The International Federation for Human Rights says at least 89 people have been killed in Bahrain since the uprising began in February 2011.