Bahraini security forces and pro-government supporters faced off against protesters near the kingdom's royal complex Friday. Hundreds of pro-reform backers stood just 500 metres from the wall of riot police with armored vehicles and hundreds of Sunnis armed with swords.
Even some main opposition parties had urged to cancel the march, fearing Bahrain was nearing a full-scale sectarian conflict. On Thursday, students clashed at a school and Sunni groups burned a Shiite-owned supermarket and threatened other businesses.
A statement by Bahrain's interior ministry warned against the march amid a "level of sectarian tension that threatens Bahrain's social fabric."