Report: Bahrain police search home of top cleric

By the Associated Press | May 17, 2013 | 8:35 AM EDT

A policeman clears away smoldering tires set ablaze as a form of protest by Bahraini government opponents across a street in Karzakan, Bahrain, on Thursday, May 16, 2013. A Bahraini demonstrator was sentenced to three months in prison Thursday for hanging a Bahraini flag from his truck during a 2011 rally, a defense lawyer said, in one of the first cases based on tougher codes for alleged insults to the Gulf nation's ruler or symbols. (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali)

MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) — A main opposition group in Bahrain says police have searched the home of the Gulf nation's most senior Shiite cleric, who has strongly sided with anti-government protesters.

The reported raid could touch off more clashes on the strategic island nation, home to the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet.

The group Al Wefaq says security forces entered the home of Shiek Isa Qassim early Friday in Diraz, about 10 kilometers (six miles) west of the capital, Manama. Qassim was not at home at the time, but his family members were present.

The statement said the teams searched the home and left, but police helicopters patrolled the area for hours after.

Bahrain has faced more than two years of unrest amid an uprising by majority Shiites seeking more political rights from Sunni rulers.