Ecclestone repeats Bahrain denials

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Bernie Ecclestone has repeated his claim that there are no demonstrations against this weekend’s Formula One race in Bahrain.

“They’re demonstrating now? I didn’t know that,” he said when asked by news agency AFP. “There’s nobody demonstrating.”

A car exploded late on Sunday in the financial district of the country’s capital Manama. A group calling itself the February 14 movement – a reference to the pro-democracy protests of 2011 that were brutally suppressed by the government – claimed responsibility.

That year’s race was cancelled due to the crisis. Last year’s Grand Prix went ahead amid extremely tight security. Despite that Force India team members were involved in an incident when a petrol bomb struck one of their vehicles. They later missed one of the practice sessions so their team could return to their hotel before nightfall.

Bahrain information minister Samira Rajab blamed the explosion on “terrorists” but claimed “there has been no major escalation of violence on the ground recently as the F1 Bahrain Grand Prix is drawing nearer.”

International media reports protests have been happening every day. Last week Human Rights Watch accused the Bahrain government of arresting over 20 people without warrants to prevent them from protesting during the race weekend.

Meanwhile the hacking group Anonymous, which took down the official Formula One website during last year’s Grand Prix, has threatened to cause further disruption again this year.

Asked if he thought the race would be a success Ecclestone replied “there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be”.