Bahrain-based Islamic lender Al Baraka Banking Group posted a 7 percent increase in first-quarter net income, the bank said in a statement on Wednesday. The bank, which has operations in 15 countries including Turkey, Syria and Egypt, made a profit of US$57.4m for the first-quarter, compared with US$53.5m in the first three months of 2011. The increase in profit came despite continuing political and economic upheaval in a number of the markets in which the group operated, as well as the impact of debt issues in the euro zone, Sheikh Saleh Abdullah Kamel, chairman of Al Baraka, said. Total assets at the end of March stood at US$17.5bn, up 1.7 percent from the US$17.2bn figure at the end of 2011 and 7.4 percent higher than the US$16.3bn at the same point last year. Deposits at the bank were worth US$15bn at the end of Q1, up 2 percent from US$14.7bn at the end of last year and 7.9 percent higher than the US$13.9bn at March 31 2011. The bank is aiming to open 50 branches across its network in the next three years to take the total number to over 500, the statement added. Al Baraka is aiming for a 15 percent growth in net profit in 2012, as well as acquiring a 75 percent stake in an unlisted Indonesian bank this year, Adnan Ahmed Yousif, its CEO, told Reuters in an interview in March.