DUBAI — Less than a week after government officials banned public gatherings due to escalating violence, a series of explosions in Bahrain's capital on Monday morning left two workers dead and another seriously injured.
According to police, five homemade bombs went off in busy areas of Manama. One victim died after kicking a device in the Gudaibiya district, causing it to explode, while a second man died in a hospital following a blast near a cinema.
A third explosion in Adliya district seriously wounded a man working as a cleaner.
All three of the victims have been described as Asian workers.
Salman al-Jalahma, a spokesperson for Bahrain’s Information Affairs Authority, denounced the violence, which the official Bahrain News Agency has described as "acts of terrorism."
"These explosions were not intended to pass on a message, but were to cause harm," he said. "These acts of violent rioters have been continuous hazards to the whole community."
While police have been targeted by recent bombings, civilian targets are rare in the kingdom, where the majority Shi’ite population has been demanding political reforms from their Sunni rulers.
No one claimed responsibility for Monday's attacks, but breakaway factions of the opposition, frustrated by the country's slow pace of reform, have been increasingly resorting to violent tactics.
In a bid to curb the escalating violence, the government last week imposed a ban on all public gatherings.
Rights groups criticized the move, calling it a violation of the right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.
A researcher at Amnesty International, Covadonga de la Campa, says Bahrain’s investigation into Monday’s attacks must be fair.
"We are calling on the authorities to ensure that those investigations are independent and impartial," said la Campa. "That whoever is brought to justice (is done so via) procedures that comply with internationally recognized standards for a fair trial."
Some opposition supporters have suggested that the attacks could have been organized by the government to justify its ban on gatherings or a further crackdown.
At least 60 people have been killed in Bahrain since mass demonstrations sparked by regional uprisings began in February 2011. Most of those killed supported the opposition.