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Tight security for Bahrain Grand Prix

March 26, 2004 10:57 IST

Bahrain authorities say they have taken all necessary precautions to ensure security when the Middle East hosts a Formula One race for the first time next week.

A statement issued in London on Thursday by Grand Prix organisers quoted a spokesman for Bahrain's Interior Ministry as saying that a wide-ranging plan had been drawn up for the April 4 race.

"The plan the Ministry has includes all aspects of security from low level vandalism to national disasters and international terrorism," he said.

"The help of the National Guard and certain assets of the Bahrain Defence Force have been brought in to provide a comprehensive and robust national security plan," he added.

Organisers said the plan included a quadrupling of patrols in all key areas of the Gulf kingdom as well as quick reaction teams on call around the clock at strategic locations.

The National Guard will also be mobilised to protect key facilities.

The spokesman said Bahrain took national security as "a matter of paramount importance" but added that policing would be as unobtrusive as possible.

The British government's latest advice to visitors to Bahrain on the Foreign Office website was of a "high threat from terrorism against western, including British, targets."

"We are particularly concerned about potential threats to places where westerners might gather," it added.

The majority of the 10 Formula One teams are based in Britain.

Britain's Mirror tabloid newspaper reported on Thursday that Ferrari's world champion Michael Schumacher would be given an armed guard in Bahrain and travel in one of the king's limousines.

A Williams spokesman said however that the team had consulted insurers and taken independent advice about the risks but premiums had not changed.

He said all staff had been briefed on local cultural sensitivities and practices but this was normal for any new race and the same would apply to China, which hosts a Grand Prix for the first time in September.


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