Opposition youths skirmished with police after 10,000 Bahrainis rallied peacefully for democracy on Friday, two days before a Formula One car race that puts the Gulf Arab kingdom in the global spotlight.
An authorised rally attended by men, women and children west of the capital Manama was orderly but as it broke up, just a few hundred yards (metres) away, dozens of young men skirmishesd with security forces firing tear gas.
The youths, many wearing black and white masks, burned boxes, a rubbish bin and tyres in the road. The tear gas sent the young men scattering.
Many in the Shi'ite Muslim-majority state accuse the Sunni-led government of trying to use Sunday's race to paper over human rights abuses and disguise political problems they say still plague the country, a close U.S. ally.
The opposition hopes the spotlight on the kingdom's biggest sporting event will help their struggle gain wider attention. Bahrain has grappled with unrest since pro-democracy demonstrations broke out in February 2011, inspired by Arab Spring revolts that swept the region.
The protests were crushed by Saudi-backed security forces, dozens of people were killed and authorities razed Pearl Square in central Manama, where mostly Shi'ite demonstrators had camped out. The race was cancelled in 2011 when the protests were crushed. At Friday's rally, many of the protesters held banners reading "I love Bahrain". Some carried roses or national flags.
They chanted "We reject tyrannical rule" and "With our souls, with our blood, we sacrifice for you Bahrain." but prioer to the skirmishes, the atmosphere was largely peaceful.
Pirelli warns time running out
Formula One's sole tyre suppliers Pirelli warned on Friday that time was running out on a new contract if they were to stay in the sport beyond the end of the season. "Time is of the essence, I would suggest," the Italian company's motorsport director Paul Hembery told reporters at the Bahrain Grand Prix.
Hembery said he had tried to avoid setting a deadline for a deal, so as not to create unnecessary tension, but the world's fifth largest tyremaker "won't and cannot hang on forever.
McLaren question Hamilton's version
McLaren questioned Lewis Hamilton's version of events on Friday after the 2008 Formula One champion told an interviewer he had been thrown out of his old team's garages in pre-season testing. Asked how much contact he still had with McLaren, Hamilton told the official formula1.com website he went to see his former team mates at the Australian season-opener in Melbourne last month. "I also tried to see them in Jerez, at the test, and (sporting director) Sam Michael threw me out of the garage. That wasn't very positive and I don't feel very good about that," the Mercedes driver said. "(Team boss) Martin (Whitmarsh) has been great and I have to say I haven't had enough contact so I will give Martin a call."