UK & World News
F1 Team Caught Up In Bahrain Firebomb Attack
Violence has broken out ahead of this weekend's Bahrain Grand Prix, with some members of the British-based Force India team caught up in a firebomb explosion.
The blast happened on Wednesday night in Manama, the capital, when a van carrying four team members got caught up in traffic.
No one in the vehicle was hurt and none of the passengers were Formula One drivers, but one of them has decided to leave the country amid continued clashes between protesters and police.
A second team member, who was not in the vehicle, has also chosen to leave.
Force India said its members had not been directly targeted and race organisers have insisted the event is safe.
A spokesman for the team said: "We were not the target. We just happened upon an incident that was ahead of us, a disruption in the road."
Bahrain's main opposition group, al Wefaq, has called for protests to coincide with the sports event to focus media attention on their demands for greater equality and representation in the kingdom.
On Thursday security forces fired stun grenades at anti-government protesters who swarmed into a cultural exhibition for the race, setting off street battles and sending visitors fleeing for cover.
Demonstrators have increasingly used firebombs against security forces during the near daily clashes.
Force India driver German Nico Hulkenberg said it was "not right" that members of his team had been close to an exploding firebomb, but added that he still felt safe.
The Bahrain International Circuit said the incident involving the Force India vehicle was caused by "illegal protesters acting violently towards police".
"During this incident a Molotov cocktail landed in the vicinity of their vehicle," the circuit said in a statement.
"After approximately two minutes, the route was cleared and the vehicle carried on its journey."
The circuit said it was confident in the Bahrain authorities' ability to deal with "such isolated incidents" and that "all the usual" security precautions are being taken around the track.
Speaking at the Sakhir circuit, chairman of the Formula One Grand Prix Drivers Association, Pedro de la Rosa, said safety is "not a concern".
Bahrain's government said on Thursday that "a number of rioters and vandals" had been arrested.
The Bahrain GP was cancelled last year due to anti-government protests that left nearly 50 people dead.
Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone last week declared the Gulf kingdom safe and decided to go ahead with this year's race, which is scheduled for Sunday.