Dubai - A bomb explosion killed three Bahraini policemen on Monday during confrontations between security forces and “rioters” in a Shi’a village near the capital, the interior ministry said.
The explosion is the most serious attack on the security forces in terms of casualties since bomb attacks became frequent in the Shi’a-majority Gulf kingdom that is ruled by the Sunni al-Khalifa dynasty.
The Shi’a-dominated opposition swiftly condemned the bombing, stressing the “peaceful” nature of action to voice political demands.
The interior ministry said on Twitter “three police personnel died in a terror blast in Daih while police were dispersing rioters”.
Earlier the ministry had said one officer and two policemen were “seriously” wounded in the village of Daih, on the outskirts of the capital Manama.
It said the security forces had dispersed a “breakaway group of thugs who diverted from a funeral route in Daih to riot”.
Witnesses reported hearing a blast in Daih during a confrontation between protesters and police who fired tear gas and buckshot to disperse demonstrators.
Clashes frequently erupt near Manama between security forces and Shi’a protesters demanding the Khalifa family surrender its grip on all key cabinet posts in favour of an elected government.
Arab Spring-inspired protests backed by Bahrain's Shi’a majority began in mid-February 2011 and were brutally crushed a month later.
On Sunday, a policeman was wounded in a blast in the Shi’a village of Akr al-Sharqi, said the interior ministry.
A policeman died of wounds sustained in a bomb blast in the village of Dair during the commemoration of third anniversary of protests on February 14, the interior ministry said at the time.
Six-opposition groups, led by Al-Wefaq main Shi’a formation, said they “regretted having casualties regardless of which side they belonged to, including security forces”.
“The sanctity of the blood applies to every human being,” said an opposition statement.
It called on supporters to “adhere to peaceful means and condemn and disclaim criminal acts claimed by the so-called Al-Ashtar Brigades or Resistance (brigades) or any other party that claims responsibility for bomb attacks and violence.”
Al-Ashtar Brigades has reportedly claimed responsibility for bomb attacks in the kingdom, including a July bombing outside a Sunni mosque.
The International Federation for Human Rights says at least 89 people have been killed since the Bahrain uprising broke out.
Last year the authorities increased the penalties for those convicted of violence, introducing the death penalty or life sentences in cases which resulted in deaths or injuries.