A twin-engine supersonic and multirole McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet combat jet has crash landed at Bahrain International Airport, disrupting flights to and from the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom.
Social media pictures of the crash showed the plane leaning back on its tail with its nose tipped into the air.
The grey fighter jet seemed largely intact and the pilot ejected from the aircraft. It is not immediately clear whether anyone was injured in the incident.
Video footage of the crash, which took place at around 2 p.m. local time (1100 GMT) on Saturday, showed smoke billowing from the cockpit.
Dozens of flights were diverted after the incident. Gulf Air, Air India Express and Fly Dubai passengers were all affected.
Bahrain, which is home to the US Fifth Fleet, has recently stepped up a crackdown on critics, barring two main political groups, revoking the citizenship of the spiritual leader of the Shia community, Sheikh Isa Qassim, and jailing rights activists.
Back in May and less than 48 hours after US President Donald Trump left Saudi Arabia, where he had met Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah, Manama regime troops attacked supporters of Sheikh Qassim in the northwestern village of Diraz, killing at least five people and arresting 286 others.
The London-based Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy said Trump “effectively gave Hamad a blank check to continue the repression of his people.”
The American president has hinted at the improvement of bilateral ties under his administration and lifted some of the former restrictions against the Manama regime.
Thousands of anti-regime protesters have held demonstrations in Bahrain on an almost daily basis ever since a popular uprising began in the country in mid-February 2011.
They are demanding that the Al Khalifah dynasty relinquish power and allow a just system representing all Bahrainis to be established.
Manama has gone to great lengths to clamp down on any sign of dissent. On March 14, 2011, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were deployed to assist Bahrain in its crackdown.
Scores of people have lost their lives and hundreds of others sustained injuries or got arrested as a result of the Al Khalifah regime’s crackdown.
On March 5, Bahrain’s parliament approved the trial of civilians at military tribunals in a measure blasted by human rights campaigners as being tantamount to imposition of an undeclared martial law countrywide.
King Hamad ratified the constitutional amendment on April 3.