DUBAI: Bahrain's coast guard has arrested eight people who were trying to escape to Iran by boat, state news agency BNA reported on late on Saturday.

Bahrain's official agency said two other men it described as "fugitives" had organised the escape from Iran.

The eight men had already been convicted - in absentia - and sentenced to between 10 to 15 years in prison, BNA said.

Six prisoners reported to have escaped from a Bahraini prison on Friday were not among the detainees, as the list of names for both groups of men published by BNA did not match.

A total of 17 people convicted on unspecified charges had escaped Bahrain's Dry Dock Detention Centre on Friday, but 11 were recaptured.

Thousands of mainly Shi'ite Muslim Bahrainis are in jail on charges ranging from participating in anti-government protests to armed attacks on security forces in the Western-allied Gulf kingdom, where the US Fifth Fleet is based.

Bahrain was rocked in 2011 by Arab Spring-style mass protests staged mainly by the Shi'ite community demanding political and economic reforms, including a bigger share in running the country.