Protesters in the Gulf country of Bahrain clashed with riot police as the practice sessions of the Formula 1 Grand Prix went on without incident. The protests are taking place away from the racing circuit.

The protest sought to showcase the opposition’s demands for reform in the kingdom located on the Gulf. Clashes started when the February 14 Revolution Youth Coalition, which is a clandestine group from cyberspace, and its supporters called for unification through a Day of Rage and attempted to march to what was the Pearl Square located in the capital city of Manama.

The Pearl Square had been the anti-regime protestors’ focal point during the 2011 protests in that took place for two months. Police shot tear gas canisters to disperse protesters before they became close to the area, said witnesses. No casualties had been reported.

The supporters of the movement were armed with Molotov cocktails and rocks and clashed with law enforcement outside Manama in the Shia villages. They burned tires and blocked the area’s main roads, said sources.

Protesters shouted the Grand Prix was a crime and called it the blood Formula. The violence that took place was a safe distance away from the race circuit located to the south of the capital, with practice sessions passing uninterrupted.

At the same time, thousands of people who support the Shia opposition group Al-Wefaq, which is more moderate, marched on a nearby highway peacefully about six miles outside Manama. The highway is a link between the capital and a number of Shia villages.

Security was increased leading up to the Grand Prix to prevent the protests from interfering with the races, which is seen as a way to booster the kingdom’s image and its economy that has been plagued by civil unrest since the Arab spring uprising of two years ago.

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