WASHINGTON, Feb. 16 (UPI) -- The security sector in Bahrain needs to be reformed, the U.S. State Department said following clashes between demonstrators and police.
Security officials in Bahrain said Wednesday that demonstrators threw iron rods and gasoline bombs at riot police responding to protests marking the first anniversary of a Shiite uprising against the minority Sunni monarchy. Victoria Nuland, a spokeswoman for the State Department, said that demonstrators had every right to express their grievances so long as they did so peacefully.
"At the same time, we hold the government of Bahrain responsible for the performance of its security forces," she said.
An independent commission found security forces in Bahrain used excessive force in responding to the uprising.
"We think that the security sector in Bahrain needs reform and that that's one of the unfulfilled, unfinished items on the to-do list," said Nuland.
Washington was criticized for taking a soft line on Bahrain's response to the uprising. The country hosts the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet.
The official Bahrain News Agency reports "a group of saboteurs" threw Molotov cocktails at police patrols late Wednesday, seriously injuring two security officers.