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ABU DHABI: Seven Bahrainis have been detained over clashes that killed a policeman, Bahrain’s government said yesterday, as activists tried to break through police checkpoints around the village where he died.
The Gulf kingdom has been convulsed by unrest since February last year after mass demonstrations led by majority Shias demanding democratic change in the Sunni-led monarchy.
The incident in the early hours of Friday was the first in which a policeman had been killed since martial law ended in June 2011. Policemen were attacked by rioters with petrol bombs and an unspecified “explosive device”, the authorities said.
“Seven Bahrainis have been detained and have been referred to the public prosecution in the case of a bombing attack in Al Eker ... in which one policeman was killed and a second critically wounded during a routine patrol,” a statement from the government’s Information Affairs Authority said.
It named the dead policeman as 19-year-old Imran Ahmed. It did not give his nationality. Many Pakistanis and some Arab nationals serve in Bahrain’s riot police — a source of friction with protesters.
The opposition, who say more than 45 people have died in clashes since martial law ended, want full legislative powers for parliament and parliament approval of cabinet.
Al Wefaq, the main opposition group in Bahrain, said yesterday that clashes had broken out near Al Eker, south of Manama, after some rights activists and medics tried to enter the village, which police has blocked off since Friday.
“Al Eker is still under siege and nobody is allowed in or out, even cars carrying food supplies are prevented from reaching people there,” Al Wefaq said in a statement.
The government statement said checkpoints had been set up as part of efforts to find those behind Ahmed’s death. “The security measures put in place in Al Eker in the form of checkpoints at the entrances of the area are aimed at verifying the IDs of those entering and leaving the village,” it said.