Hundreds of Shiite protesters have taken to the streets of Bahrain, demanding the release of the jailed leader of the country's largest opposition group.

Police blocked the main roads, preventing the marchers from getting access to a major highway. The protest started after Friday prayers. Some of the protesters threw Molotov cocktails at the policemen, who responded by firing tear gas and birdshot.

Many protesters carried posters of Sheik Ali Salman, head of the al-Wefaq opposition group who has been jailed for three weeks, accused of inciting violence and calling for the overthrow of the nation's Sunni-led monarchy.

Bahrain has been mired since 2011 in near-daily protests by majority Shiites demanding a greater say in government.

Bahrain is host to the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet.