Manama, Bahrain: Authorities in Bahrain on Friday stepped up security around the Formula One circuit after clashes between protesters and security forces intensified ahead of the controversial Grand Prix race in the Gulf Kingdom.
Last year, a wave of anti-government protests by the island's Shiite majority and a violent crackdown by the Sunni rulers prompted organizers to cancel the 2011 Bahrain GP. At least 50 people have been killed since the start of Bahrain's uprising, inspired by other Arab Spring revolts, and violence continues to roil the island.
The 2012 grand prix race - Bahrain's premier international event - will take place despite appeals by rights groups for another cancellation and pressure from protesters, including a jailed activist on a more than a two-month-long hunger strike. There have also been allegations of widespread human rights abuses in the tiny, but strategic island that is the home of the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet.