File image - Bahrainis chant anti-government slogans and wave Bahraini flags during a pro-democracy rally organized by opposition parties in Muqsha, Bahrain, on Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012. (AP Photo / Hasan Jamali)

Dubai - Thousands of supporters of Bahrain's largely Shiite Muslim opposition demonstrated peacefully on Friday near Manama, calling for democratic reform in the turbulent Sunni-ruled Gulf country, witnesses said.

Demonstrators, carrying the national flag, marched along a road linking several Shiite villages west of the capital, chanting slogans against the regime and urging reforms.

The demonstration, held ahead of Bahrain's National Day celebrations on Sunday, was called by opposition groups after a ban on organising protests was lifted earlier this week.

The opposition said afterwards that it “will not stop without a true democratic process that will end an era of injustice and tyranny.”

Bahrain was shaken by a protest movement in February 2011 led by the Shiite majority demanding a constitutional monarchy in the kingdom.

At least 80 people have died since the start of the unrest, according to the International Federation of Human Rights.

Last week, Bahrain's crown prince made a renewed appeal for dialogue to end the political impasse, which was welcomed by the opposition, but there seems to be no end in sight to increasingly violent protests. - Sapa-AFP