Plot by militants backed by Iran said to be foiled

Bahrain broke up a plot by militants backed by Iran to launch attacks on diplomats and foreigners in the island nation that is home to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet, Saudi state television and local media reported Sunday, just days after the kingdom normalized relations with Israel.

Details about the alleged plot remained scarce Sunday night as Bahrain’s Interior Ministry and its state media did not publicly acknowledge the arrests. Bahraini officials, however, routinely claim they have broken up plots by militants backed by Iran.

The Saudi TV report said that nine militants have been arrested and that another nine are thought to be in Iran.

Iranian state media acknowledged the reports, but no official commented on them.

Authorities uncovered the plot after finding an explosive on the street believed to have been planted to target a “foreign delegation,” the pro-government Bahraini newspaper Akhbar al-Khaleej reported, citing the Interior Ministry. The ministry accused Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps of supporting the militants, who also had surveilled oil sites and military bases, the newspaper said.

The report linked the militants to the al-Ashtar Brigades, a Shiite group that has asserted responsibility for bombings and attacks in Bahrain in the past.

Bahrain just last week normalized relations with Israel alongside the United Arab Emirates, in part over their joint suspicion of Iran.

— Associated Press


Two-day regional vote shaped by pandemic

Italians in seven regions headed to the polls Sunday for two days of voting shaped by the covid-19 pandemic.

Voters were required to wear masks and maintain social distancing as they cast ballots in regional contests originally scheduled for the spring but delayed because of the pandemic. Italy’s outbreak has claimed more than 35,600 lives — the second-worst confirmed death toll in Europe after Britain — and stricken 296,500 people since February.

For the first time, voters over 65 have preferential access and are being guided to the front of any line by volunteers.

Once inside, voters may lower their masks just long enough to confirm their identity against voting cards and ID documents. And, in a change, voters leaving the voting booths will place the ballots inside the boxes themselves, instead of turning them over to poll workers.

Despite the complications presented by the coronavirus, analysts are projecting a strong turnout, as the pandemic emphasized the significance of local and regional leadership. In Italy, health care is administered at a regional level.

Mayoral races also were being held in 1,000 towns and cities. And Italians are also voting in a referendum to reduce the number of national lawmakers — cutting lower-house lawmakers from 630 to 400 and those in the Senate from 315 to 200.

— Associated Press

Thousands protest Netanyahu despite virus rules: Thousands of Israelis resumed their weekly protest outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's official residence in Jerusalem, despite a new nationwide lockdown order aimed at curbing a raging coronavirus outbreak. An exception allowing people to hold demonstrations was included in the three-week lockdown imposed Friday. Thousands have joined in the protests throughout the summer, calling on Netanyahu to resign while he is on trial over corruption charges and accusing him of bungling the coronavirus response. Netanyahu is charged with fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes in three cases.

5 injured in Houthi attack, Saudi media reports: Five civilians were injured when a military projectile launched by Yemen's Iran-aligned Houthi rebels hit a village in Saudi Arabia's southern Jazan region, state media reported. There was no confirmation of the attack by the Houthis, who have been battling a Saudi-led coalition in Yemen for more than five years. The coalition intervened in March 2015 after the Houthis ousted the Saudi-backed government from the capital, Sanaa, in late 2014.

2 Pakistani troops killed in shootout with militants: Pakistan's military said two soldiers were killed in a shootout with militants during a search operation in the country's northwest. The operation was conducted in the Spalga area near Miran Shah, the main town in North Waziristan in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, bordering Afghanistan. The area has served as a base for Pakistani and foreign militants until recent years, when the military claimed troops had cleared it.

— From news services