DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Riot police in Bahrain used water cannons and tear gas on Friday to disperse hundreds of anti-government protesters trying to reach a heavily guarded site that was once the hub of their uprising.
The demonstrators marched toward Pearl Square in Bahrain's capital, Manama, after a funeral procession for a protester who died in custody. The government said the man died of a blood disease.
An Associated Press photographer said the demonstrators hurled firebombs and rocks at troops about 700 meters (yards) from Pearl Square, where crowds gathered in February 2011 as the Arab Spring-inspired uprising erupted in the Gulf nation.
Bahrain's majority Shiites seek greater rights in the Sunni-ruled kingdom, which is home to the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet. At least 50 people have died in nearly 20 months of unrest.
Dozens of opposition leaders have been jailed, including human rights activist Nabeel Rajab whose family said he began a hunger strike Friday.
Rajab was temporarily freed from prison this week to attend his mother's funeral, but the furlough was cut short after he delivered a speech urging for protests to continue.