Thousands of partisans of Bahrain's opposition demonstrated near Manama on Friday to protest against the alleged torture of jailed regime opponents, witnesses said.
Gathered around the Shiite village of Daih, men and women waved Bahrain's national flag and held up signs that read: "Manama, capital of torture," the witnesses said.
"Torture is a practice rooted in the security agencies," in Bahrain, the main Shiite opposition bloc Al-Wefaq said in a statement.
It charged that a tug-of-war is underway in Sunni-ruled Bahrain between "a political majority demanding a democratic transition and a hard core dictatorship that refuses any change."
Bahrain, home to the US Navy's Fifth Fleet, was rocked by month-long protests in early 2011 linked to opposition demands for a constitutional monarchy.
The protests were crushed with the help of Gulf troops led by neighbouring Saudi Arabia.
Strategically situated across the Gulf from Shiite-ruled Iran, Bahrain, which has a majority Shiite community, has continued to witness sporadic demonstrations, now mostly outside the capital.
Human rights groups say a total of 80 people have been killed in the unrest in Bahrain since February 2011.