Bahrain's interior ministry says it has launched a security operation in Diraz, the home village of leading Shia Muslim cleric Ayatollah Isa Qassim and the site of a sit-in encampment of his followers.

The raid on Tuesday followed Qassim's sentencing this week to one year in jail, suspended for three years, on charges of corruption.

"The implementation of security operation in Diraz village began this morning ... to impose security and general order after the area became a haven for people wanted in security cases and fugitives from justice," the ministry said on its official Twitter account.

It added that "several fugitives" were using the village as a hideout and were arrested.

Qassim's supporterrs have staged regular sit-ins since authorities revoked the cleric's citizenship in June 2016.

Pictures posted by activists online showed at least 10 armored police cars lining up and masked protesters erecting road blocks with planks and cinder blocks.

The images, which could not immediately be verified, showed police shooting tear gas canisters.

Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, a Britain-based NGO, said at least one "peaceful protester" was killed in the clashes.

Eyewitnesses told the AFP news agency that multiple civilians were wounded when police opened fire at demonstrators throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at security forces.

Source: News agencies