Bahrain says it has arrested 29 people as bands of anti-government protesters try to converge in the capital to mark the third anniversary of the uprising in the small Gulf island nation.

Hundreds of youths are attempting to get to Pearl Square, which was a protest hub at the center of the movement that started on February 14, 2011. The square was cleared by police raids and later razed in the early weeks of the unrest and is now sealed off by security forces.

Some of the youths marching on Friday were seen carrying Bahraini flags, while others held unlit Molotov cocktails or metal rods.

The Interior Ministry says the 29 were arrested over "rioting and vandalism" in villages outside the capital, Manama, on Thursday, the eve of the anniversary.