© Bahrain interior ministry/EPABahrain has tightened security around embassies in the country after a bus blast near the British embassy in Manama
Bahrain's interior ministry says small blast near embassy in Manama was caused by bomb under a parked minibus

A bomb has exploded near the British embassy in Manama, the Bahraini capital, according to the country's interior ministry.

"Given the strength of the explosion and the debris it scattered, it was a highly explosive substance that was used," a ministry spokesman tweeted from a news conference. "The explosion was the result of a package placed under the front tyre," he said. He described the vehicle as a minibus parked some 50 metres from the embassy compound.

A Foreign Office spokesman said there were no casualties or damage to the compound as a result of the blast, which occurred at around 1.30am. "We are working with Bahrain's interior ministry and we have requested a temporary increase in security," he said. "We cannot yet identify the cause or the responsibility."

There has been widespread tension in Bahrain since pro-democracy protests erupted in February after revolts in Egypt and Tunisia. The government imposed martial law for nearly three months and ordered mass detentions and trials to crush the protests.

The government, dominated by the Sunni Muslim Al Khalifa family, said the protests, led by majority Shias, had sectarian motives and were fomented by Iran. A government-sponsored fact-finding commission led by international rights lawyers said last month there was no evidence of Iranian interference but Bahrain said there was incitement by the Iranian media.

A diplomatic crisis between Iran and Britain deepened last week after youths stormed the British embassy in Tehran to protest against economic sanctions imposed over Iran's nuclear energy programme.

London withdrew its diplomats from Tehran and expelled Iranian diplomats from Britain. Other European countries withdrew envoys from Tehran last week in support of Britain. Iran denies its nuclear programme is aimed at developing nuclear weapons.

Source: Reuters