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Bahrain Shiite protesters clash with police, demand release of jailed opposition leader

  • Bahraini anti-government protesters holding national flags duck behind a makeshift shield as they come under tear gas and shotgun fire during clashes with riot police in Bilad al-Qadeem, Bahrain, Friday, Jan. 16, 2015. Daily clashes have been escalating since the arrest of Shiite opposition leader Sheikh Ali Salman on Dec. 28. (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali)

    Bahraini anti-government protesters holding national flags duck behind a makeshift shield as they come under tear gas and shotgun fire during clashes with riot police in Bilad al-Qadeem, Bahrain, Friday, Jan. 16, 2015. Daily clashes have been escalating since the arrest of Shiite opposition leader Sheikh Ali Salman on Dec. 28. (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali)  (The Associated Press)

  • A Bahraini anti-government protester stands with a cutout of jailed Shiite opposition leader Sheikh Ali Salman in tear gas fired by riot police during clashes in Bilad al-Qadeem, Bahrain, Friday, Jan. 16, 2015. Daily clashes have been escalating since Salman's arrest on Dec. 28. (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali)

    A Bahraini anti-government protester stands with a cutout of jailed Shiite opposition leader Sheikh Ali Salman in tear gas fired by riot police during clashes in Bilad al-Qadeem, Bahrain, Friday, Jan. 16, 2015. Daily clashes have been escalating since Salman's arrest on Dec. 28. (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali)  (The Associated Press)

  • Bahraini anti-government protesters march in support of jailed activists in Bilad al-Qadeem, Bahrain, Friday, Jan. 16, 2015. Protests and daily clashes have been escalating since the arrest of Shiite opposition leader Sheikh Ali Salman on Dec. 28. (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali)

    Bahraini anti-government protesters march in support of jailed activists in Bilad al-Qadeem, Bahrain, Friday, Jan. 16, 2015. Protests and daily clashes have been escalating since the arrest of Shiite opposition leader Sheikh Ali Salman on Dec. 28. (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali)  (The Associated Press)

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.