Police in Bahrain are clashing with residents of a besieged town that is home to a Shiite cleric.

The cause for the confrontation on Wednesday in Diraz wasn't immediately clear.

Residents of the town and activists say that riot police first massed outside, then entered the town.

They say locals confronted the police, who fired tear gas. All requested anonymity as an activist previously faced charges for speaking to The Associated Press.

The town is home to Sheikh Isa Qassim, who lost his citizenship in June over government allegations he fanned extremism. His supporters say he's targeted by Bahrain's Sunni-ruled government as part of a wider crackdown on dissent in the years after its 2011 Arab Spring protests.

Qassim has been in legal limbo since June at his Diraz home.