* Policemen attacked while on patrol outside Manama
* Unrest continues to rattle Gulf Arab kingdom
ABU DHABI, Oct 19 (Reuters) - A policeman in Bahrain was
killed and another critically injured in a bomb attack while on
patrol south of the capital Manama, security officials said on
Friday, as further unrest convulsed 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 protesting against alleged discrimination last year.
Those protests were initially crushed by the kingdom's Sunni
Muslim monarchy, with martial law and help from Gulf neighbours.
However, 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
One policeman died of his injuries on Friday morning while
the other was in a critical condition, it said. An investigation
was underway 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".
Thousands of people attended the policeman's funeral in the
mainly Sunni area of Rifaa on Friday afternoon, witnesses told
Some mourners shouted "Down, down with Issa Qassim", in
reference to Sheikh Issa Qassim, a spiritual guide to Shi'ites
in Bahrain. Qassim is not connected to any party but led a
pro-democracy protest of some 100,000 people in March.
Bahraini police have been the target of such bombings several
times in the past year, most recently in May when four policemen
Shi'ites complain of discrimination in the electoral system,
jobs, housing and education and say they are mistreated by
government departments, the police and the army. Government
promises of action to address their concerns have come to
nothing, they say.
An anti-government demonstration attended by thousands and
organised by the main al Wefaq opposition bloc on Friday
afternoon west of Manama passed off peacefully, witnesses said.
A commission of international legal experts reported in
November that torture had been systematically used on protesters
to punish them and extract hundreds of confessions. It
recommended 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.