SECURITY authorities have been urged to crack down on illegal arms in Bahrain amidst growing gun violence.
They should take stringent measures against civilians, who possess unlicensed guns and ammunitions as it has resulted in a "serious decline" of safety and security, said former Amnesty International Bahrain co-ordinator Nasser Burdestani.
It follows a spate of armed violence in which two currency exchange outlets in Riffa and Salmabad were robbed at gunpoint and a gym owned by outspoken MP Osama Al Tamimi was left riddled with bullets.
"Two money exchange outlets were robbed by armed men in separate incidents and this has never happened before," said Mr Burdestani.
"We cannot have a situation like this where civilians are walking with guns on the streets."
The Bahraini, who actively campaigns against gun violence and for abolishment of nuclear weapons, warned this could lead to a culture in which carrying dangerous weapons would be acceptable.
"There cannot be a culture of violence which we are seeing now and this should be controlled immediately by security authorities," he said.
"If gun possession is not controlled, it would soon be a cultural thing to have a weapon. This is dangerous.
"Every person should be brought under the scanner if they possess an unlicensed weapon that could be a threat to the public. If this is not done it will be difficult to control and handle this issue."
Mr Burdestani said civil society organisations in Bahrain are concerned about the increase in violence, particularly the use of homemade explosives targeting policemen, which they strongly condemn.
The GDN had reported that saboteurs used television remote controls, wireless door bells, and mobile phones to detonate homemade bombs that have seriously injured 16 policemen during a spate of attacks in the last six weeks.
They have also been mixing petrol canisters with explosive chemicals, nails, glass pieces and other objects to create maximum damage, according to sources involved in investigating the crimes.
Several policemen are still in hospital following attacks against the security forces in Eker, Duraz, Sitra and Bani Jamra.
"Any party resorting to violence should stop or else it will result in other parties using violent methods," he urged.
Police reportedly recovered 30 bullets from Mr Al Tamimi's gym in Sanad after the attack on April 28.
They are also investigating the armed robberies in which two unidentified individuals took off with more than BD20,000 from Bahrain Finance Company in Salmabad on May 2 and a masked gunman escaped with BD5,000 from Travelex in Riffa on April 22.
The Interior Ministry had requested all those with unlicensed arms and ammunitions to immediately approach its Licenses Office at the General Directorate of Crime Detection and Forensic Science.
It said that under the law those possessing unlicensed weapons can face up to 15 years in jail while those who possess or carry ammunitions can be jailed for up to five years. And those who fail to renew their licences may face up to six months in jail.