ABU DHABI (Reuters) - A Bahraini policeman was killed and another critically injured in a bomb attack while on patrol south of the capital Manama, security officials said on Friday, in further unrest plaguing the Gulf Arab kingdom and close U.S. ally.
Bahrain, where the U.S. Fifth Fleet is based as a bulwark against Iran, has been volatile since majority Shi'ite Muslims began protests last year initially crushed by the Sunni Muslim monarchy, using martial law and help from Gulf neighbors.
Smaller scale demonstrations have since resumed and anti-government protesters clash with security forces several times every week in the small island country.
The policemen were attacked in the village of Akr late on Thursday by rioters with petrol bombs and an unspecified "explosive device," the information authority said in a statement, citing Major General Tariq Hasan al-Hasan, the security chief.
One policeman died on Friday morning from his injuries while the other was in critical condition, it said. An investigation was under way to determine to find the assailants, Hasan said.
Earlier on Friday Bahrain's interior ministry described the incident in the mostly Shi'ite village as a "terrorist attack".
Bahraini police have been the target of such bombings several times over the past year, most recently in May when four policemen were wounded.
Shi'ites complain of discrimination in the electoral system, jobs, housing, education and their treatment by government departments, the police and army. They say government assertions that it is addressing those concerns have produced no action.
A commission of international legal experts reported in November that torture had been systematically used on protesters to punish and extract hundreds of confessions. Among its many recommendations were reviewing activists' jail sentences.
Bahraini authorities accuse regional Shi'ite power Iran of encouraging the unrest and have promised a tough response to violent protests as talks with the opposition have stalled.
(Reporting by Raissa Kasolowsky; Editing by Mark Heinrich)