DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — A detainee being held in the Gulf island kingdom of Bahrain has died while in custody, authorities announced Sunday.
The Ministry of Interior said in a statement that the unidentified detainee died of natural causes after being taken to the Salmaniya Medical Complex. It gave no further details on the circumstances of his death other than that he was suffering from an unspecified "medical condition" and had been referred to a doctor. Questions sent to the ministry seeking clarification went unanswered.
Bahrain's Sunni-led government has faced years of low-level unrest following its crushing of a 2011 Arab Spring-inspired uprising led by the country's Shiite majority. Authorities have intensified a crackdown on political opponents and activists in recent weeks, and earlier this month ordered the country's main Shiite opposition group, al-Wefaq, to be dissolved.
Opposition activists and rights groups have previously alleged that some detainees face torture in the country, which hosts the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet. The government says it is opposed to any kind of mistreatment.
In a separate statement, police said they arrested Majeed al-Mishal, a Shiite cleric, for allegedly inciting others to "break the law and take part in an illegal gathering." He is one of several religious leaders targeted in the last crackdown.
In May, an appeals court more than doubled to nine years the prison term for Sheikh Ali Salman, who was al-Wefaq's secretary-general. Authorities have moved to strip the citizenship of another senior cleric, Sheikh Isa Qassim, who is also being tried on charges of money laundering related to the collection of religious taxes.