Bahrain attack rattles Force India

2012-04-19 15:44

MANAMA, Bahrain - Two members of the Force India team have decided to leave Bahrain, including one person who was in a team vehicle that was briefly delayed by a firebomb a day earlier.

The bomb exploded on April 18 in Bahrain's capital Manama, causing a Force India van with four team members to be delayed in traffic on its way from the Bahrain Grand Prix circuit. No one in the vehicle was hurt and none of the four passengers were Formula 1 drivers, said Force India spokesman Will Hings.

Hings said: "We were not the target. We just happened upon an incident that was ahead of us, a disruption in the road. Nobody was hurt from our team. We were not targeted directly by Molotov cocktails."


Hings said the four team members were back at the track, but later told the AP that one of them was leaving the country and heading back to Europe. Hings said another member of the team, who was not in the delayed vehicle, was also leaving.

Hings said: "I won't be giving any details of their positions or names, they were just people working for the team. I can't give you any more information other than that they're returning home out of their free choice."

Demonstrators in Bahrain have increasingly used firebombs against security forces during the near daily clashes.

Hings declined to comment on whether the team was worried about safety: "We've always taken out direction from the FIA, the sport's governing body. I'm sure they're continuing to monitor the situation in Bahrain. We take our guidance from them."

The Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) said the incident involving the Force India vehicle was caused by "illegal protesters acting violently towards police."

The BIC said in a statement: "During this incident a Molotov cocktail landed in the vicinity of their vehicle. After approximately two minutes, the route was cleared and the vehicle carried on its journey."

The Bahrain GP was cancelled in 2011 due to anti-government protests that left nearly 50 dead. In April 2012 Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone declared the Gulf kingdom safe and decided to go ahead with the race.

The circuit said: "The BIC would like to reiterate its confidence in the relevant Bahrain authorities in their ability to deal with such isolated incidents and can confirm that all the usual precautions are being taken around the track to ensure the level of security is maintained."

Although the 2011 race was called off due to unrest in the country, organisers have insisted that the 2012 race will be safe, and blamed extremist groups using "scare-mongering tactics" for raising doubts about the race.

Protesters argue that the F1 decision to return to Bahrain gives greater international legitimacy to the monarchy and its crackdowns, which rights activists claim have included waves of arrests.

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