Bahrain newspaper, shut down by government, lays off staff

A prominent independent newspaper in Bahrain earlier shut down by the government as part of a crackdown on dissent has laid off its staff.

The daily Al-Wasat sent a statement Saturday to employees saying it had to let them go after the tiny island nation's rulers ordered it closed on June 4 .

It marked the third time authorities have ordered it to stop publishing a print edition since the island's 2011 Arab Spring protests and comes just after officials briefly banned it in January from publishing online.

The crackdown in Bahrain, home to the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet, has seen activists arrested or forced into exile and political parties disbanded.

Independent news gathering there has grown more difficult, with the government refusing to accredit two Associated Press journalists and others.