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Bomb explosion outside British embassy in Bahrain

A bomb exploded outside the British embassy in Bahrain early Sunday, officials said. No casualties were reported.

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Anti-government protesters gather at Pearl Square in Manama, the capital, for a demonstration calling for regime change on Feb. 16, 2011. (Joseph Eid/Getty Images)

A bomb exploded near the British embassy in Bahrain early Sunday morning, officials said.

No one was hurt and the embassy was not damaged, mission spokesman Al-Taher al-Jamal told the Telegraph.

No one has yet claimed responsibility for the blast, and it was not immediately clear whether the British mission was the target of the bomb, Sky News said.

According to Bahrain's Interior Ministry, the blast came from a minibus parked in a public lot approximately 50 meters from the embassy in the capital, Manama.

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Explosives were planted under the front tire, ministry spokesman Salah Salem told a press conference Sunday.

The blast shattered the vehicle's windows, tore one of its wheels off and created a hole on the driver's side around 30 centimeters across, Salem said. Nearby vehicles were also damaged.

Police believe a "highly explosive" substance was used, since the remains of it were found over 30 meters away from the vehicle. The material is currently being analyzed in the ministry's forensic lab, Xinhua news agency reported.

PoliInvestigators have sealed off the area where the vehicle was parked, the UK Press Association reported.

Security has been increased around the British embassy and other foreign embassies and citizens asked to report any suspicious vehicles parked nearby, the BBC said.

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The explosion occured as hundreds of Shia Muslims were taking part in a procession for the annual ceremony of Ashura, according to Xinhua. Cars belonging to the worshippers had their windows and tires smashed, while some people threw stones as the procession passed, Sky said.

Bahrain's majority Shias have been leading protests demanding greater freedom from the ruling Sunni elite since February. An official report last month accused the national security forces of unlawfully detaining and abusing protesters.

On Saturday, it was announced that the former assistant commissioner of the UK's Metropolitan Police Force, John Yates, would travel to Bahrain to advise on police reforms.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/111204/bomb-explosion-outside-british-embassy-bahrain