A manhunt is underway in Bahrain for ten inmates convicted of terrorism charges who escaped after armed gunmen stormed the prison, killing a police officer.

Bahrain's interior ministry said on Twitter that five members of a "terrorist group" armed with automatic rifles and pistols attacked Jaw prison, located south of the capital of Manama, Sunday.

Seven of the inmates were serving life sentences and three were serving lengthy prison terms for what the ministry said were "terrorist acts."

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, which also wounded a second officer.

Bahrain, a small island nation off the coast of Saudi Arabia, has grappled with low-level unrest since its 2011 Arab Spring protests when the country's Shi'ite majority and others demanded greater political freedoms from the nation's Sunni rulers. Shi'ites have complained the Sunni-led monarchy has discriminated against them, a charge that the government denies.

The government launched a broad crackdown on protestors in April, jailing some prominent political figures and pushing others into exile. Thousands of primarily Shi'ite Muslims have been imprisoned for participating in anti-government activities.

Bahrain is home to the U.S. 5th Fleet.  Britain is also opening a naval base in the Persian Gulf nation.

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