The police fired tear gas and sound grenades to disperse protesters outside Manama [AFP]

Bahraini police have clashed with anti-government protesters, a day after rights activists said a demonstrator was run over and killed as he fled security forces chasing protesters near the capital, Manama.

Police fired tear gas and sound grenades to disperse rallies in different Shia villages outside Manama, Matar Matar, a member of the Shia opposition bloc al-Wefaq, said.

Several people were injured in the clashes which went on for several hours on Friday, he told Reuters news agency.

"Many were injured because of excessive force," Matar said. "Many have head injuries which indicates there is an intention to hurt them."

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) said demonstrator Ali-Ahmed al-Qassab died on Thursday after he was hit  by a speeding car while trying to flee intelligence officers during clashes between protesters and riot police.

Witnesses said he was killed by a police vehicle.

Bahrain's interior ministry denied police were responsible for the man's death. In a statement late on Thursday, the ministry said a pedestrian was fatally injured in a traffic accident that involved a civilian vehicle. Its driver is in custody, the statement said.

Activists arrested

Also on Thursday, police arrested human rights activist Zainab al-Khawaja, a daughter of a prominent opposition leader, as she and several other women were holding a sit-in in Budaiya roundabout.

Photographs and video footage circulated by activists showed a female police officer handcuffing and dragging al-Khawaja.

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In a statement, the BCHR called for action to "guarantee her release and protection from further physical violence".

A female officer "took my [Muslim head] scarf off and tied it around my mouth to stop me from speaking," al-Khawaja was quoted as telling her lawyer, Zahra Masood, in the rights group's statement.

Commenting on al-Khawaja's arrest, Bahrain's information affairs authority said she was taken into custody for her "role in a larger illegal gathering in a busy roundabout on one of the main roads outside Manama".

The statement said female police officers were sent to the roundabout to clear it of protesters and make the arrest.

"In the process of getting her into the police vehicle, al-Khawaja resisted arrest by laying down and female officers had to physically remove her from the site," the statement said.

Another woman, Masooma al-Sayed, was arrested at another sit-in next to a mall on the same Manama highway, the BCHR said.

The clashes follow 10 months of protests led by Shia activists, demanding political reforms in the Sunni-ruled kingdom.

More than 35 people have died in clashes and protest-related violence since February.

Source: Agencies