A Bahraini policeman died of wounds sustained in a bomb blast during protests to mark the anniversary of mass protests in 2011 as supporters of the main Shiite opposition bloc took to the streets on Saturday.
Thousands of demonstrators were expected to join the anniversary rally called by the opposition Al Wefaq movement to press its campaign for a constitutional monarchy.
The interior ministry said the policeman died from wounds sustained in a “terrorist explosion” in the Shiite village of Dair late on Friday.
It was the second blast reported during three days of protests commemorating the month-long unrest three years ago.
Earlier, an explosion in the village of Daih caused minor damage to a bus transporting police personnel.
Shiite villages have been at the forefront of the campaign among the majority community for an elected government.
Witnesses said that several protesters were wounded as police fired tear gas and bird shot to disperse them on Friday. Demonstrators responded by hurling petrol bombs, they said.
“Some villages saw rioting, vandalism and the targeting of policemen. This required police to respond to these criminal acts through legal means,” the interior ministry said.
A total of 26 people “suspected of rioting and vandalism” were arrested on Friday, the ministry said. The arrests followed 29 on Thursday.
In August last year, King Hamad ordered stiffer penalties for terrorism offences, including a minimum 10-year jail term for attempted bombing convictions.
Bombings that result in casualties are punishable by life imprisonment or the death penalty.
* Agence France-Presse