A Bahraini policeman yesterday died of wounds sustained in a bombing that the nation’s Ministry of the Interior described as a terrorist act.
Attacks on security forces have been on the rise in the strategically located Gulf Arab country, which hosts the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet, more than three years after authorities quelled Shiite Muslim-led protests against the Sunni-led government.
Bahrain has been caught up in a regionwide tussle for influence between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran, and authorities have blamed Shiite groups for carrying out attacks and accused them of having links to Iran. Tehran denies this.
There were no immediate claims of responsibility for the attack on Friday night.
The ministry said through its Twitter account that the policeman was on duty when the explosion occurred near the village of East Eker, south of the capital, Manama.
Police chief Tariq al-Hassan, in a statement received by reporters on Friday, identified the policeman as Mahmoud Fareed, and said he had died early yesterday in hospital.
One of the deadliest attacks in recent months was in March, when three policemen were killed by a remotely detonated improvised exploasive device.
A car bomb on April 19 killed two men and wounded another in a mainly Shiite village.
Another officer died on Feb. 15, also by a bomb blast, in a Shiite village during protests marking the third anniversary of Shiite-led demonstrations, reportedly taking their cue from Arab Spring uprisings elsewhere in the region and demanding democratic reforms in the absolute monarchy.
Since then, several explosions have wounded at least four policemen in Shiite villages around Manama.
The violence has raised fears that Shiite youths are becoming more militant as political reconciliation talks stall.
Bahraini Shiites, who make up the majority of the population, complain of political and economic marginalization, an accusation that Bahrain’s central government denies.
Security forces boosted by Saudi-led troops ended the protests a month later, but smaller demonstrations frequently take place in Shiite villages, triggering clashes with members of law enforcement.
Bahrain, a strategic archipelago just across the Gulf from Iran, is the home base of the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet, and Washington is a long-standing ally of the ruling Al Khalifa dynasty.