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Bahrain Says It Foils "Terrorist Attack" Backed By Iran - Media

The US Patrol Coastal ship USS Tempest (PC 2) transits from Khalifa Bin Salman Port to Mina Salman Pier in Bahrain on July 3, 2013. The arrival of Tempest, USS Thunderbolt (PC 12) and USS Squall (PC 7) brings the total number to eight PCs here to support

DUBAI, Sept 20 (Reuters)

Bahrain said on Sunday it had foiled a "terrorist attack" backed by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Saudi state television Al-Ekhbariya and a local Bahraini newspaper reported, both citing Bahrain's interior ministry.

Bahrain, host to the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet and other international naval operations, has often accused Shi'ite Muslim Iran of seeking to subvert the kingdom, which has a Shi'ite majority and is ruled by Sunnis.

It was the only Gulf Arab state to witness a sizeable pro-democracy uprising in the 2011 "Arab Spring", from a largely Shi'ite opposition movement, which it quashed with Saudi and Emirati help.

Interior ministry investigations showed a new terrorist group called the "Qassem Soleimani Brigade" was planning to attack several public and security structures in Bahrain, the media reports said.

The group also tracked several personal guards of "important personalities" in Bahrain as part of a plot to assassinate them, local newspaper Akhbar al-Khaleej said.

The attacks were planned to avenge the killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in January by a U.S. drone strike.

Bahrain's security forces said they foiled the planned attacks after finding an explosive device in the Badei area meant to target a visiting foreign delegation.

The media reports did not say when the attack was meant to have taken place, but said a case was being prepared against 18 accused, of which nine are now in Iran.

Bahrain joined the United Arab Emirates in establishing relations with Israel on Sept. 11, a move forged partly through shared fears of Iran.

The deal has led to a surge in popular anger but analysts argue it strengthens the government, since traditional allies are more likely to turn a blind eye to any further crackdown.