|Bahrain police disperse march with water cannon||
Bahrain, a U.S. ally and home to the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet, has been in turmoil since protests erupted on February 14 last year, inspired by demonstrations sweeping the Arab world.
The country has a Shia Muslim majority, but is ruled by a Sunni ruling family. The government imposed martial law last year and crushed demonstrations after inviting troops from other Persian Gulf states, led by Sunni power Saudi Arabia, to help restore order.
The anniversary of last year's protests has seen an increase in demonstrations. The past week has seen police use water cannon to disperse protests for the first time in 11 months.
Monday's clash took place in Jidhafs, an area just outside the capital Manama, after the funeral of Hussein al-Baqali, 19, whose family says he died this week from burns sustained last month during a tire-burning at anti-government protests.
His family says he was unable to go to state hospitals for fear of arrest. The Interior Ministry said he set himself alight.
“After the burial of Hussain al-Baqali in Jidhafs, groups of vandals rioted. Police dispersed them,” the Interior Ministry said in its Twitter feed.
Police moved in on a group of over 500 people who marched down to a traffic junction inside the town, using two water cannon lorries backed up by helicopters and dozens of riot police in armored vehicles and on foot firing tear gas.
Opposition tries to reclaim roundabout
The ministry also said protesters were later arrested for trying to block traffic on the highway near the former Pearl Roundabout, a traffic junction occupied by anti-government protesters for a month last year until the movement was crushed.
The junction's pearl monument, once a national landmark, was razed after the protests last year. Opposition figures have said they wanted to mark the anniversary of the protests by re-occupying the area. There have been clashes in nearby Shia villages all week.
Said Yousif Almuhafda, an opposition activist, said different groups totaling around 30 people had tried Monday to approach the roundabout, which is under heavy guard. Some were arrested after tear gas was fired.
The Bahraini revolution began in mid-February 2011, when the people, inspired by the popular revolutions that toppled the dictators of Tunisia and Egypt, started holding massive popular demonstrations.
The Bahraini government promptly launched a brutal crackdown on the peaceful protests and called in Saudi-led Arab forces from neighboring Persian Gulf states.
Dozens of people have been killed in the crackdown and the security forces have arrested hundreds, including doctors and nurses accused of treating injured revolutionaries.
A report published by an independent committee in November found that the Al Khalifa regime used excessive force and accused Manama of torturing political activists, politicians, and protesters.
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