Three policemen have been killed by a remotely detonated bomb in Bahrain during a protest in a village west of the capital Manama, the Interior Ministry has said, in one of the worst incidents of violence in recent months.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) said one of its police officers, serving in a Gulf Cooperation Council force operating in the island kingdom, was among the three dead officers, according to the UAE state news agency WAM.
WAM identified the dead as Lieutenant Tareq Mohammed al-Shehhi.
Bahrain's main opposition groups condemned the bombing as a criminal act and urged supporters to ensure that protesters use only peaceful means to push their demands for reforms.
"They assert their rejection of any practice that targets lives and property and call on the people of Bahrain, demanding their just rights, to abide by peaceful means and to condemn these criminal acts," the opposition groups said in a statement sent to the Reuters news agency
The Interior Ministry said on its Twitter account that a group of protesters had broken away from a mourning procession in the village of Daih and started blocking roads.
The explosion took place as police were trying to disperse the group, it added.
"The initial investigation indicates that terrorists planted the bomb near a lamp post on Budaiya Road," the ministry said in a statement.
"The device was remotely detonated while police were securing the roads and restoring order," it said, adding that
two other devices had exploded in the village without causing any injuries and a fourth had been defused.
The state news agency BNA quoted the ministry as saying that the policemen had died "while confronting a terrorist group in Daih".
Al-Wefaq headquarters attacked
The explosion occurred as hundreds marched on Monday in a procession to mark the final day of mourning for a 23-year-old Shia who died in custody last week.
The Interior Ministry said the man, who was detained in December and had been accused of smuggling weapons, had died of an illness.
Last month, a policeman was killed by an explosion at a protest to mark the third anniversary of Bahrain's uprising.
The authorities say they have implemented some reforms and are willing to discuss further demands, but the opposition says there can be no progress until the government is chosen by elected representatives, instead of the ruling royal family
Meanwhile, a spokesman for al-Wefaq, the country's main opposition group, said a group of masked men had attacked the group's headquarters with clubs and knives on Monday, fleeing when police arrived.
Bahrain's Shia majority has long complained of discrimination, a charge denied by the Sunni-led government.