Security forces reinforced by pro—government Sunni vigilantes fired rubber bullets and tear gas late Friday to scatter protesters near the palace in the capital Manama.

Tens of thousands of protesters in Bahrain are marching on a royal palace hours after clashes with Bahrain injured dozens of activists.

The latest unrest Saturday comes as U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates visits on a mission to encourage dialogue between the mostly Shiite protesters and the Sunni monarchy.

Security forces reinforced by pro—government Sunni vigilantes fired rubber bullets and tear gas late Friday to scatter protesters near the palace in the capital Manama.

Bahrain’s month-long uprising has deepened the sectarian divide between Sunni Muslims backing Bahrain’s ruling dynasty and the Shiite protesters demanding it give up its monopoly on power.

Bahrain is a close U.S. ally and the home of the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet.

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