Bahraini security forces have fired tear gas and birdshots to disperse anti-regime demonstrators in several towns near the capital, Manama, witnesses say.
According to witnesses, violent clashes broke out between Bahraini protesters and the regime forces in the village of Shakhoora, located west of Manama, as well as several other towns.
During the gathering, Bahraini protesters chanted slogans against the ruling Al Khalifa regime amid tight security.
The witnesses said riot police charged into the crowd, firing birdshot and tear gas. Some people were overcome by tear gas, with no reports of casualties.
Similar clashes also erupted in other Bahraini villages, including Karana where protesters hurled firebombs at regime forces.
Bahrainis also plan to hold anti-regime rallies near the US Embassy and other parts of Manama.
The fresh wave of protests in the Persian Gulf state came after the Bahraini opposition called for a major demonstration on Wednesday, when the country holds celebrations of independence from the UK.
Hussain Yousif, a spokesman for Bahrain’s Tamarod Movement, the group organizing the rallies, said, “Based on what we are following in the field, the government violence against protesters is inevitable.”
“But we need to go ahead and show the world and the government that the Bahraini people have the right to express their political demands,” he added.
On August 7, Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa banned protests in the capital, Manama, ahead of the August 14 celebrations.
The uprising in Bahrain began in mid-February 2011.
The Al Khalifa regime launched a brutal crackdown on the peaceful protests, calling in Saudi-led Arab forces from neighboring states for help.