Bomb wounds two policemen in Bahraini Shi'ite village

DUBAI Tue Mar 11, 2014 2:11pm EDT

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DUBAI (Reuters) - A homemade bomb exploded in a Shi'ite Muslim village in Bahrain on Tuesday, wounding two policemen, the interior ministry said, nine days after another blast in the Gulf Arab kingdom killed three police officers.

Bahrain has been grappling with unrest by majority Shi'ites over the past three years demanding political reform and an end to perceived discrimination in the Sunni Muslim-ruled country. Bahrain denies any discrimination against Shi'ites.

Bomb attacks have increased since last year, raising concern about further instability in the Western-allied kingdom where the U.S. Fifth Fleet is based as a bulwark against Shi'ite giant Iran across the Gulf.

The interior ministry said the two policemen sustained moderate injuries from the bomb as they were working with a third officer to secure a neighborhood in the village of al-Eker in the late afternoon.

An investigation was under way to identify and arrest those involved in the incident, a statement by the ministry said.

On March 3, three policemen, including one from the United Arab Emirates, died when what the authorities say was a remote-controlled bomb exploded during a mourning procession for a 23-year-old Shi'ite who died in custody on February 26.

The Interior Ministry has said the blast occurred as police were trying to disperse protesters who were blocking roads in the village of Daih, west of the capital Manama. Four people have been arrested in connection to the Daih bombing.

Mainstream opposition groups, including the main Shi'ite al-Wefaq movement, have condemned the bombing and called on their followers to ensure that protest activities remain peaceful.

The village of al-Eker was the scene of a bomb blast and riots that killed a policeman in 2012, the first to die after the lifting of martial law in the country in June 2011.

Bahrain has accused Iran of fomenting bloodshed in the kingdom. Iran denies having links to Bahrain's opposition or any hand in violence, but champions the cause of Shi'ites there.

(Reporting By Farishta Saeed; Writing By Maha El Dahan; Editing by Sami Aboudi and Mark Heinrich)

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