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April 19, 2014

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Bahrain arrests 29 on eve of uprising anniversary

Updated Friday, Feb. 14, 2014 | 2:27 a.m.

MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) — Bahrain announced the arrest of 29 people as anti-government protesters tried to converge in the capital on Friday to mark the third anniversary of the uprising in the small Gulf island nation.

Hundreds of youths were attempting to get to Pearl Square in the capital, Manama, 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 Friday were seen carrying Bahraini flags, while others held unlit Molotov cocktails or metal rods.

On Thursday, the eve of the anniversary, 29 were arrested over "rioting and vandalism" in villages outside Manama, the Interior Ministry said.

The tiny island nation, which is home to the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet, is ruled by a Sunni monarchy. The country's majority Shiites began protesting in 2011 to seek greater political rights from the country's rulers. More than 65 people have died in the unrest, but rights groups and others place the death toll higher.

At one point, neighboring Gulf countries, led by Saudi Arabia, sent troops to Bahrain to help quell the Shiite-led uprising.

Repeated rounds of political talks have failed to significantly close the rifts between the two sides and the opposition is demanding amnesty for what they claim are more than 3,000 political prisoners held in Bahraini prisons.