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'Don't race on our blood': Protesters try to put the brakes on Bahrain's Grand Prix

Mazen Mahdi / EPA

Traffic comes to a stop due to a blockade of burning tires on the outskirts of the Bahraini capital Manama on April 18, 2013.

Mazen Mahdi / EPA

A protester flashes the victory sign after setting tires on fire to block a road on the outskirts of the Bahraini capital Manama on April 18.

 By Reem Khalifa, The Associated Press

Organizers of Bahrain's Grand Prix said Thursday that sporadic protests against the race and violent unrest across the Gulf nation do not pose a threat to the premier international event in the kingdom.

Anti-government groups have stepped up protests against the race in attempts to embarrass authorities, but the demonstrations have been mostly isolated to areas that are hotbeds of opposition to the ruling royal family. Rights groups also are using the race to criticize Bahrain's arrests and other security crackdowns.

Bahrain has faced more than two years of violence between the Sunni-led government and majority Shiites seeking a greater political voice. 

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Mazen Mahdi / EPA

A bulldozer used by the police to clear the streets passes graffiti in memory of killed protesters that reads "Don't race on our blood," in Duraz village, north of the Bahraini capital Manama, on April 18.

Hasan Jamali / AP

A riot police officer jumps a fence to extinguish a tire fire set by Bahraini anti-government protesters in Sehla, Bahrain, on April 18.

Social media websites share video of clashes between protesters and riot police in Bahrain where anti-government groups are stepping up attacks ahead of the F1 Bahrain Grand Prix. NBCNews.com's Dara Brown reports.