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Middle East

Tense calm in Bahrain as F1 chiefs say Grand Prix to go ahead


The Bahrain Grand Prix will go ahead next weekend despite concerns over security but the race organisers' decision has split opinion in the Gulf state, which has been shaken by a year of anti-government protests.

The International Automobile Federation (FIA) gave the green light earlier today after some doubt that the Formula One race, cancelled last year due to a crackdown on the pro-democracy protestors, was on.

"All the teams are happy to be there," Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone said in Shanghai, which hosts the Chinese Grand Prix this weekend. "There's nothing happening. I know people who live there and it's all very quiet and peaceful."

However, today several thousand people joined a funeral procession for a man shot during an anti-government protest two weeks ago, in Salmabad just outside the capital Manama. Police were on hand but kept their distance from the mourners.

Two other rallies are also planned later today.

Security forces are also on alert in case clashes between youths and police in Shi'ite villages escalate, or if the health of a jailed activist on hunger strike deteriorates. Two nights ago, gangs of youths attacked cars and tried to march on a neighbouring Shi'ite district after a Sunni-led rally.