A prominent independent newspaper in Bahrain earlier shut down by the government as part of a crackdown on dissent has fired its staff.

The daily Al-Wasat sent a statement on Saturday to employees saying it had to let them go after Bahrain's rulers ordered it to be closed on June 4.

"We regret to inform you that the board of directors ... has decided to terminate the employment contracts with the employees," board chairman Adel al-Maskati wrote in English in a message addressed to "all staff".

Al-Wasat had some 160 staff, including 30 foreigners.

Crackdown

Bahrain's information ministry banned Al-Wasat in early June "until further notice" for its "violation of the law and repeatedly publishing information that sows division in society and affects Bahrain's relations with other states," according to BNA state news agency.

It marked the third time authorities have ordered it to stop publishing a print edition since the island's 2011 Arab Spring protests and comes just after officials briefly banned it in January from publishing online.

The London-based Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy said the ban on the paper was "the latest in an escalated crackdown on independent civil society".

The crackdown in Bahrain has seen activists arrested or forced into exile and political parties disbanded, while independent news gathering there has grown more difficult.

Source: News agencies