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Car bomb explodes outside mosque in Bahrain

ABU DHABI (Reuters) - A car bomb exploded outside a Sunni Muslim mosque as worshippers attended late-night prayers in a district where members of Bahrain's royal family live, the Interior Ministry said on Thursday.

No one was reported hurt in the attack in Riffa south of the capital Manama late on Wednesday, in what government officials said was an attempt to inflame sectarian tensions.

Bahrain, a majority Shi'ite country but ruled by the Sunni al Khalifa family, has been buffeted by political unrest since 2011, with mostly Shi'ite Bahrainis agitating for democratic reforms and more say in government.

Police were hunting for the assailants, who used a gas cylinder placed inside a vehicle parked outside the mosque, the Interior Ministry said.

Witnesses said several vehicles were destroyed in the explosion but there were no reports of injuries.

The attack was condemned by the main Shi'ite opposition group, Wefaq, as well as government officials including King Hamad bin Issa al-Khalifa.

Authorities have largely crushed the revolt in the island which is home to the U.S. Fifth Fleet and sits between top oil exporter Saudi Arabia and Washington's main regional antagonist Iran, but small-scale clashes and protests erupt almost daily.

National reconciliation talks between the government and opposition parties have made little progress since they began in February.

King Hamad ordered swift action against all those who incite violence, state news agency BNA said.

In a statement on its website, Al Wefaq condemned the attack, saying "the demands of the political majority in Bahrain is democratic transition that adopted peaceful methods."

(Reporting By Maha El Dahan; editing by Sami Aboudi; Editing by John Stonestreet)

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