MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) — Tens of thousands marched in Bahrain on Friday in the largest anti-government protest in months in the violence-gripped Gulf nation.
Sporadic clashes with security forces broke out as the demonstrators clogged a main highway, but the marches were mostly peaceful.
The rally was approved by Bahrain's Sunni rulers as part of efforts to reach out to the Shiite-led opposition. But many marchers appeared emboldened by U.S. President Barack Obama's mention of sectarian tensions in Bahrain in his U.N. address earlier this week.
Bahrain has been hit by nonstop unrest since early 2011 when majority Shiites launched an Arab Spring-inspired uprising for greater political rights.
The island kingdom is home to the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet.