Protests and clashes expand in Bahrain

MANAMA, Bahrain — Thousands of antigovernment marchers jammed a major highway Friday as clashes broke out for a second day between security forces and protesters marking the anniversary of their uprising in the strategic Gulf nation.

The spike in violence is likely to put pressure on Shi’ite opposition groups as they engage in talks to ease the crisis with Bahrain’s Sunni-led government, despite objections from hard-line factions who want to topple the Western-backed monarchy.

In another sign of escalating tensions, police said they found a bomb weighing 4.4 pounds on the causeway connecting Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, which closely backs Bahrain’s monarchy. Police said bomb disposal teams defused the device, which officials said contained ‘‘highly explosive material.’’

Associated Press