MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) — An explosion injured at least seven Bahraini policemen Monday in an area hit by frequent clashes between security forces and anti-government protesters in the Gulf kingdom, officials said.
Although street battles pitting the Sunni monarchy's security forces against rock- or firebomb-throwing protesters demanding greater rights for the Shiite majority are an everyday occurrence, targeted attacks with guns or bombs are a rarity.
The country's Interior Ministry said that explosion occurred in Ekar, a mostly rural area south of the capital Manama. At least three of the policemen received critical injuries, it said.
Nearly 50 people have died in Bahrain's unrest since February 2011.
Bahrain is also facing mounting pressure to accept Denmark's demand to release a jailed hunger striker who is facing a life sentence for links to the uprising.
At the United Nations, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Bahrain should consider transferring Abdulhadi al-Khawaja — who is also a Danish citizen — for medical treatment in Denmark on humanitarian grounds.
A statement by Bahrain's government described al-Khawaja's condition as "stable" after nearly two months on a hunger strike. On Sunday, Bahrain's top judicial panel rejected a request by Denmark to gain custody of al-Khawaja, who is also a Danish citizen.
The unrest also could further raise questions about plans to host a Formula One race in Bahrain on April 22. The event was canceled last year amid the violence.
Earlier Monday, Bahrain's state airline said its Facebook page has been hacked and the Gulf nation's Internet crime division was investigating.
Gulf Air said in a statement that the site was defaced for "political purposes," but gave no further details.
Social media posts claim that the carrier's logo was replaced by an image of al-Khawaja.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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