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Bahrain Defends Raid on MSF Medical Center

Bahrain's government is defending its recent police raid on a medical center run by French-based aid group, Doctors Without Borders, saying the facility was unlicensed.

Bahrain's health ministry said Thursday the group, also known as MSF, was operating the medical center in a residential building without permission from relevant authorities. It says police searched the facility with a warrant on July 28.

MSF issued a statement Wednesday condemning what it called an "armed raid" on its Manama medical center, saying the group has been open about its operations in the Gulf island state. MSF said Bahraini police confiscated medical equipment and arrested a Bahraini volunteer who was working as a driver and translator.

The Bahraini health ministry says it has charged MSF volunteer Saeed Mahdi with providing health services without a license and giving false information to authorities. It says Mahdi had called Bahraini emergency services to provide treatment for a patient who had come to the MSF facility with serious head injuries.

The ministry says Mahdi hid his affiliation with MSF when making the call and claimed to be a bystander.

MSF says it has treated about 200 patients in Bahrain who feared being arrested by authorities for taking part in pro-democracy protests that began in February. Bahrain's government has put several doctors on trial on charges of supporting the protest movement, which was led by Bahrain's majority Shi'ites.

Bahrain's Sunni rulers put down the protests in March with help from security forces of neighboring Gulf states.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.