Manama — The head of Bahrain's military says a Saudi-led force brought in to deal with anti-government protests will remain in the country even after emergency rule is lifted next month.
The commander, Sheik Khalifa bin Ahmed al-Khalifa, is also warning of harsh retaliation if protesters return to the streets.
Bahrain's Sunni rulers have conducted a massive crackdown on the country's Shia majority after protests began in February for greater rights. A trial of 21 activists accused of plotting against the state is scheduled to resume Thursday.
Bahrain says it will lift emergency rule 1 June. But the commander's comments late Wednesday suggest that a heavy security presence will remain along with the additional 1500 Saudi-led troops from Gulf Arab countries.