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Protests

Thousands demonstrate in Bahrain to mark uprising anniversary

Thousands of people have marched in Bahrain to mark the third anniversary of a pro-democracy uprising that was put down by authorities. The country remains in the grip of sectarian tensions.

Saturday's rally saw crowds of men, women and children taking to streets in and near the capital, Manama, to call for more democracy. The demonstration was called by the kingdom's main opposition movement, the Shiite al-Wefaq.

It was one of the largest protests staged since 2011, when pro-democracy demonstrations began on February 14, inspired by Arab Spring uprisings elsewhere.

Some media reports say clashes between protesters and police broke out after the demonstrators had marched several kilometers (miles), with police firing tear gas into the crowd.

The protesters called for democracy, political reform and the release of political prisoners.

Sectarian conflict

The protest highlights sectarian tensions that continue to beset the Gulf-island nation since the 2011 uprising, with the country's majority Shiites demanding greater political rights from the Sunni-led monarchy. Activists and police have clashed frequently in recent times, and anti-government factions have increasingly been using small-scale bombs to attack government forces.

The demonstration on Saturday came as the Interior Ministry announced that one of two police officers hurt in a bombing on Friday had died of his injuries. In a statement, it described the explosion in the village of Dair, near the country's main airport, as a "terrorist blast."

Twenty-six people were reportedly arrested in unrest on Friday, the exact anniversary of the start of the 2011 protests.

Uprising put down in 2011

Bahrain put down the uprising in 2011 with the help of neighboring Sunni-ruled gulf countries with smaller Shiite populations, led by Saudi Arabia.

More than 65 people died in the unrest, with rights groups putting the death toll higher.

The ruling family has launched a third round of dialogue with its opponents, but so far talks have failed to produce political agreement.

tj/ipj (Reuters, AP)

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