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Forces cordon off protest site

Witnesses said security forces in Bahrain's capital are blocking roads around a former protest hub after clashes with anti-government demonstrators in the Gulf island kingdom.

Witnesses said tanks and police vehicles surrounded Pearl Square, which had been the centrepiece for Shiite-led protests calling for greater rights from Sunni rulers in the strategic nation, which is home to the US Navy's Fifth Fleet.

The witnesses spoke on a condition of anonymity because they fear reprisals.

The blockades came after protesters in a Manama neighbourhood called for a march back to Pearl Square, which was stormed by security forces several weeks after pro-reform demonstrations began in February.

Major protests have been crushed, but small-scale clashes have occurred nearly nightly for weeks.

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