MANAMA, Bahrain -- Police in Bahrain on Sunday fired tear gas at thousands of demonstrators chanting anti-government slogans after the funeral of an elderly man who witnesses say died from tear gas inhalation.
The unrest Sunday is the fourth straight day of clashes between opposition supporters and security forces along a main highway west of the Bahraini capital Manama. At least 40 people have been killed since February, when Bahrain's Shiite majority started campaigning for more rights from Sunni rulers in the Gulf kingdom that is the home of the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet.
Amir al-Mouali said his 73-year-old neighbor, Abdulali Ali Ahmed, was taken to a hospital Saturday morning after struggling to breath during a night of heavy clashes near his home along the Budaiya highway, which connects a string of Shiite villages west of Manama.
Al-Mouali said Ahmed died Saturday evening.
In a statement Sunday, Bahrain's Interior Ministry said Ahmed died of natural causes.
The demonstrations along the strategic highway has been going since Thursday. The Budaiya highway leads to a junction that is roughly half a kilometer (a quarter of a mile) south of Manama's Pearl Square, the former focus of Bahrain's Shiite uprisings.
Government forces evicted protesters from the Pearl Square in March and tore down the pearl sculpture that marked the site.
The now heavily guarded square holds great symbolic value for Bahrain's opposition movement, and protesters have repeatedly tried to retake it.