Thousands march in Bahrain protest rally

Thousands of anti-government protesters in Bahrain have filled a main highway in the country's first state-approved march in weeks.

The rally outside the capital Manama included chants and placards calling for the release of a prominent human rights activist, Nabeel Rajab, who is appealing a three-year sentence for allegedly encouraging violence.

Associated Press journalists said the line of protesters stretched for at least three kilometers (two miles). Friday's march was the first government-approved protest event since a temporary ban was imposed earlier this summer.

Other marches have been held on without government approval, often resulting in clashes with security. Bahrain has been hit by nearly nonstop unrest since February 2011 when majority Shiites began demonstrations for greater rights from the Western-backed Sunni monarchy.