MANAMA - The head of Bahrain's leading opposition party was hit by a rubber bullet and a teargas canister during clashes with riot police late on Friday, the party said, accusing the government of intensifying a crackdown on protests.

Bahrain's police said one man was taken to hospital and a number of other people were injured in the confrontation.

The Gulf Arab state, which hosts Washington's Fifth Fleet, has been in turmoil since pro-democracy protesters, led by majority Shi'ites, took to the streets in February 2011, partly inspired by revolts in Egypt and Tunisia.

The ruling Al Khalifa family, which is Sunni Muslim, has extended parliament's powers of scrutiny over ministers and budgets, but rejected demands for full legislative powers and elected governments.

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