Bahrain breaks up anti-Saudi protests

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Dubai (AFP)

Police in Shiite-majority Bahrain used tear gas Saturday to disperse protesters demonstrating over Saudi Arabia's execution of a prominent Shiite cleric, witnesses said.

Protesters cried "Death to Al-Saud", referring to the conservative kingdom's ruling family, and clashed with police, but no casualties were reported.

Small demonstrations were reported in Shiite-majority villages Jidhafs and Malikiya west and south of the Sunni-ruled country's capital.

There were calls for more demonstrations in the evening.

Nimr al-Nimr, a driving force of the protests that broke out in Saudi Arabia's east in 2011, was among 47 people executed in the Sunni-ruled kingdom on Saturday.

Bahrain, which has itself faced unrest from its Shiite majority population, has backed Riyadh over the executions.

Authorities said that they would take "all necessary legal measures" against any "negative" actions in response to the death sentences, which they would consider as "inciting sedition and threatening civil order".

They also warned of legal measures against anyone who used "social media networks to spread rumours that influence security".

Bahrain, home to the US Navy's Fifth Fleet, has been rocked by a Shiite-led uprising since February 2011, with demands ranging from a constitutional monarchy to overthrowing the ruling dynasty altogether.

Scores of opponents have been detained, with many facing trial, while others convicted of involvement in violence have been handed heavy sentences, including loss of citizenship and life in prison.