The Interior Ministry said the policeman was one of four wounded
by "terrorist" blasts on Friday.
"Some villages saw rioting, vandalism and the targeting of
policemen. This required police to respond to these criminal acts
with legal means," the ministry said, adding that 26 suspected
rioters and vandals had been arrested the same day.
Dozens of protesters demonstrated in different parts of the island,
throwing stones at police firing tear gas.
Bahrain, with Saudi help, crushed the demonstrations that began on
February 14, 2011 inspired by Arab uprisings elsewhere, but has yet
to resolve the conflict between majority Shi'ites and the Sunni-led
monarchy they accuse of oppressing them.
The ruling family has launched a third round of dialogue with its
opponents, but no political agreement is in sight.
Shi'ites were expected to join more protests on Saturday organized
by the main opposition al-Wefaq movement. The Interior Ministry said
extra police had been deployed and would "respond to attempts to
riot or to vandalize property".
The Bahraini authorities, along with their Saudi backers, view
Shi'ite demands for political reform as Iranian-inspired subversion.
Their handling of the unrest has embarrassed the United States,
which has had to balance its support for an ally that hosts its
Fifth Fleet against human rights concerns.
"Three years since the start of the protests, we have seen no
peace," said a 34-year-old clerk in Saar village who gave his name
only as Abu Ali. "Every day...youngsters go out and burn tires on
the roads and the police attack them with teargas."
DIALOGUE ON ROPES
Crown Prince Sheikh Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa, a relative moderate
in the Sunni al-Khalifa family that has ruled Bahrain for more than
200 years, stepped in last month to try to revive a dialogue that
the opposition had boycotted for four months.
Royal Court Minister Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmed al-Khalifa has since
met opposition leaders and other figures, but formal talks have yet
to resume and the two sides still seem far apart.
[to top of second column]
"Each of the country's three main political conflicts — opposition
versus government, Sunnis versus Shi'ites and reformists versus
obstructionists within the ruling family — continues unabated," said
Justin Gengler, a Bahrain expert at Qatar University.
The opposition had boycotted the talks after the government
investigated at least two of its leaders on incitement charges.
Concern is rising that young Shi'ites will resort more and more to
violent militancy if mainstream opposition leaders fail to advance a
political settlement that would give Shi'ites a bigger say in
government and improve living conditions.
A tiny Gulf archipelago of 1.7 million people, Bahrain has been in
turmoil since the original revolt. The government says it has
implemented some reforms recommended by international investigators
and that it is willing to discuss further demands.
Shi'ites want wider-ranging democratization, entailing cabinets
chosen by an elected parliament rather than appointed exclusively by
the king. They also call for an end to alleged discrimination in
jobs, housing and other benefits. The government denies any policy
of marginalizing Shi'ites.
Al-Wefaq leader Sheikh Ali Salman blamed the stalemate on what he
called the government's preference for security crackdowns over a
genuine political opening.
"Had wisdom been used by the government, there wouldn't be a popular
revolution, and a political solution would have been reached in the
first few months," he told Reuters on Friday.
Information Minister Samira Rajab said dialogue would go on, blaming
"terrorists" for the clashes of the last few days.
(Additional reporting by Amena Bakr; editing by Alistair Lyon)
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.