Thousands of Bahrain F1 protesters dispersed
Security forces use tear gas to end march against Grand Prix race as crown prince confirms Sunday’s race will go ahead.
Thousands of anti-government protesters have been dispersed after flooding a major highway in Bahrain demanding a halt to the Formula One race on the first day of its practice runs ahead of Sunday’s race.
The move cames as the Gulf kingdom’s crown prince vowed that the country’s premier sporting event would go ahead.
Bahraini authorities stepped up security around the Formula One circuit on Friday after clashes between protesters and security forces intensified ahead of the Grand Prix.
Friday’s massive rally was organised by Shia political blocs, including the main groups Al Wefaq and Al Waad.
The rally is part actions by the country’s majority Shia population as they continue their longstanding demands for greater equality in the Sunni-ruled kingdom.
Al Jazeera’s special correspondent in Mamana, the capital, who cannot be named for security reasons, described the part of the protest that he followed:
“I would say about 3,000 people gathered with banners and chanting for freedom and democracy and dignity,” he said.
“That demonstration has now been effectively disrupted by the police.
“I’m now inside a shopping mall where a good deal of the protesters are now taking cover from the tear gas and riot police who are outside now.
“I think it’s going to be a tense evening because, although it’s calm again where I am, the Shia villages that surround Manama are expected to be the scenes of renewed clashes throughout the night.”
Pictured: Clashes have been building in the week leading to Sunday’s round of the Formula One competition [Reuters]