Policeman dies after bomb explosion in Bahrain amid protests marking three years since uprising

Crowds subdued with teargas and protesters arrested as 'terrorists' blamed for clashes

A policeman has died in Bahrain after a bomb exploded amid protests to mark the third anniversary of the start of the pro-democracy uprising in the country.

The Interior Ministry said the man was one of four wounded by "terrorist" blasts on Friday and 26 suspected rioters and vandals had been arrested.

“Some villages saw rioting, vandalism and the targeting of policemen. This required police to respond to these criminal acts with legal means,” a statement said.

Demonstrations sprung up across the island and witnesses reported stones and missiles being thrown at police, who fired tear gas into crowds.

Bahrain, with Saudi help, crushed the demonstrations that began on 14 February 2011 inspired by other uprisings during the Arab Spring, but has yet to resolve the conflict between majority Shi'ites and the Sunni-led monarchy they accuse of oppressing them.

The ruling family has launched a third round of dialogue with its opponents but no political agreement is in sight.

Shi'ites were expected to join more protests on Saturday organised by the main opposition al-Wefaq movement. The Interior Ministry said extra police had been deployed and would “respond to attempts to riot or to vandalise property”.

The Bahraini authorities, along with their Saudi backers, view Shi'ite demands for political reform as Iranian-inspired subversion.

Their handling of the unrest has embarrassed the United States, which has had to balance its support for an ally that hosts its Fifth Fleet against human rights concerns.

“Three years since the start of the protests, we have seen no peace,” said a 34-year-old clerk in Saar village who gave his name only as Abu Ali. “Every day...youngsters go out and burn tyres on the roads and the police attack them with teargas.”

Crown Prince Sheikh Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa, a relative moderate in the Sunni al-Khalifa family that has ruled Bahrain for more than 200 years, stepped in last month to try to revive a dialogue that the opposition had boycotted for four months.

Royal Court Minister Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmed al-Khalifa has since met opposition leaders and other figures, but formal talks have yet to resume and the two sides still seem far apart.

“Each of the country's three main political conflicts - opposition versus government, Sunnis versus Shi'ites and reformists versus obstructionists within the ruling family - continues unabated,” said Justin Gengler, a Bahrain expert at Qatar University.

The opposition had boycotted the talks after the government investigated at least two of its leaders on incitement charges.

Concern is rising that young Shi'ites will resort more and more to violent militancy if mainstream opposition leaders fail to advance a political settlement that would give Shi'ites a bigger say in government and improve living conditions.

A tiny Gulf archipelago of 1.7 million people, Bahrain has been in turmoil since the original revolt. The government says it has implemented some reforms recommended by international investigators and that it is willing to discuss further demands.

Shi'ites want wider-ranging democratisation, entailing cabinets chosen by an elected parliament rather than appointed exclusively by the king.

They also call for an end to alleged discrimination in jobs, housing and other benefits. The government denies any policy of marginalising Shi'ites.

Al-Wefaq leader Sheikh Ali Salman blamed the stalemate on what he called the government's preference for security crackdowns over a genuine political opening.

“Had wisdom been used by the government, there wouldn't be a popular revolution, and a political solution would have been reached in the first few months,” he told Reuters on Friday.

Information Minister Samira Rajab said dialogue would go on, blaming “terrorists” for the clashes of the last few days.

Reuters

Teenager's death marks second anniversary of Bahrain's uprising
Bahrain acquits police officers accused of torturing doctors who treated protesters
Bahraini children 'beaten by security'
David Cameron entertains Bahrain’s dictator King Hamad al-Khalif
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an excellent, large partially ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Primary Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Ashdown Group: Lead Web Developer (ASP.NET, C#) - City of London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Lead Web Develo...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee