MANAMA (Reuters) - A bomb blast wounded a policeman in Bahrain on Friday night in what the Interior Ministry said was a terrorist act, the latest in a string of attacks on security forces in the U.S.-allied island kingdom.
Violence has been on the rise in the strategically located Gulf Arab country, which hosts the U.S. Fifth Fleet, more than three years after authorities quelled Shi‘ite Muslim-led protests demanding reforms and a bigger role in the Sunni-led government.
The country has been caught up in a region-wide tussle for influence between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shi‘ite Iran, across the Gulf.
Bahrain’s Interior Ministry said in a brief message posted on its Twitter account that the policeman was on duty when the explosion occurred in the village of East Eker, south of the capital Manama.
There were no immediate claim of responsibility, but the authorities have previously blamed small Shi‘ite groups for carrying out such attacks and accused them of having links to Iran. Tehran denies the accusations.
One of the deadliest attacks in recent months was in March, when three policemen were killed by a remotely detonated home-made bomb. A car bomb on April 19 killed two men and wounded another in a mainly Shi‘ite village.
Since then, several explosions have wounded at least four policemen in Shi‘ite villages around Manama. The violence has raised fears that Shi‘ite youths are becoming more militant as political reconciliation talks stall.
Bahraini Shi‘ites, who make up the majority of the population, complain of political and economic marginalization, an accusation the government denies.
Reporting by Farishta Saeed, writing by Sami Aboudi; editing by Rania El Gamal and Mark Trevelyan