Riot police detain a Bahraini anti-government protester during clashes in Sitra, Bahrain, demonstrating against holding the April 22 F1 Grand Prix in Bahrain. Picture: AP/Hasan Jamali

Dubai: Seven Bahraini policemen were wounded, three seriously, when a home-made bomb exploded during a protest near the capital yesterday calling for the release of an activist who has been on a two-month hunger strike.

Protesters threw petrol bombs at riot police to lure them into Eker, a Shia village outside Manama, before the bomb was set off.

“We consider this an act of terrorism,” said an interior ministry spokesman.

On Sunday, Bahrain refused to extradite the jailed Bahraini political activist, Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, also a Danish citizen, despite a request from Denmark to hand him over because his health was worsening.

Daily protests to demand his freedom have been taking place across the small Gulf Arab island state, which last year crushed protests against the Sunni royal family, mostly by majority Shia Muslims.

Khawaja’s lawyer said on Friday that the activist had been moved to a military hospital and was being fed intravenously.

Protesters have also demonstrated against the Formula One grand prix scheduled to take place on April 22. Last year’s race was cancelled.

The governing International Automobile Federation, commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone and Bahrain organisers have all said the race will go ahead.

But racing teams in China for Sunday’s race said some had hedged their bets by routing personnel on return flights via Abu Dhabi, Dubai or Oman with alternative reservations for the last leg of the journey back from Shanghai.

Bahrain says it is making progress implementing the recommendations of an inquiry it commissioned last year into the unrest, the country’s worst since sectarian-tinged political turmoil in the 1990s.

The inquiry found that some of the more than 2 000 people detained in the aftermath of the protests died under torture.

Bahrain denies charges of sectarian discrimination that protesters have levelled at its ruling family.

Security at the grand prix would aim to be “low key and discreet” but would include contingency plans to deal with potential disruptions such as demonstrators invading the circuit, an adviser to the Gulf Kingdom’s interior ministry said on Monday. – Reuters, Sapa-AP