(Manama) - Unknown assailants lobbed teargas grenades at the home of a leading Bahraini human rights defender in the early hours of April 18, 2011, Human Rights Watch said today. The attack, which took place at 3:30 a.m. in the village of Bani Jamra, targeted the home of Nabeel Rajab, head of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and a member of the Human Rights Watch Middle East Advisory Committee.
Rajab said two of the grenades spread gas into the adjacent home of his 78-year-old mother, who suffers from respiratory disease, causing her great distress. The third grenade did not detonate. To Human Rights Watch's knowledge, only Bahrain's security forces have access to the types of grenades that were thrown into the Rajab family's compound.
"This attack certainly appears to target Nabeel Rajab for his human rights advocacy," said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "Bahraini authorities need to investigate this incident and hold those responsible to account."
Markings on the grenades identified them as Triple Chaser CS 515 grenades, manufactured by Federal Laboratories in Saltsburg, Pennsylvania. They were thrown over a high wall that surrounds both his home and his mother's, Rajab said. He said that everyone was sleeping in the two houses at the time, and that he was unaware of any unrest in the neighborhood at the time.
On April 10, officials publicly accused Rajab of fabricating photos posted on his Facebook site of the body of Ali Isa Ibrahim Saqer, who died in detention on April 9. The photos showed slash marks all over his back and other signs of physical abuse. A Human Rights Watch researcher saw Saqer's body just prior to his burial and said the photos were accurate.