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Bahrain police officer killed in 'terrorist' blast

The blast which killed a police officer in East Ekar is part of an escalation of attacks in Bahrain in recent months
Bahrain has had unrest since pro-democracy demonstrations began in 2011 (AFP)
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A police officer died in a "terrorist" blast in a Shiite-populated village in the Sunni-ruled Gulf kingdom of Bahrain, an interior ministry official announced Saturday.

"Police officer Mahmud Farid died Saturday before dawn from wounds sustained in a terrorist explosion at East Ekar", near Manama, said national security chief General Tareq al-Hassan in a statement published by national news agency BNA.

An investigation has been opened to identify and arrest those behind the attack, he added without giving further details.

Attacks on security forces have been on the rise in Bahrain in recent months, with three police officers, one from the United Arab Emirates, killed in a bomb attack in a Shiite-populated town on 3 March.

Another officer died on 15 February, also by a bomb blast, in a Shiite village during protests marking the third anniversary of Shiite-led demonstrations, taking their cue from Arab Spring uprisings elsewhere in the region and demanding democratic reforms in the absolute monarchy.

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 police.

Bahrain, a strategic archipelago just across the Gulf from Iran, is the home base of the US Fifth Fleet, and Washington is a long-standing ally of the ruling Al-Khalifa dynasty.