Bahrain opposition stages major rally after Obama cites tensions

Thousands of marchers in Bahrain have joined the largest anti-government protest in months in the violence-gripped Gulf nation.

Sporadic clashes with security forces broke out Friday as more than 10,000 marchers clogged a main highway, but most of the event was peaceful.

The rally was approved by Bahrain's Sunni rulers as part of efforts at outreach with 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.