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Rediff.com  » News » Bahrain: Saudi forces roll in to restore order

Bahrain: Saudi forces roll in to restore order

March 14, 2011 19:31 IST

Saudi Arabian forces on Monday entered the strife-torn Bahrain after two days of clashes between police and protesters mounted the most serious challenge to the Island's royal family. "More than 1,000 Saudi troops have entered Bahrain," the BBC reported, quoting a top Saudi official. The report said that the troops were part of Gulf Countries Peninsula Shield Force.

"The troops entered the strategic Gulf kingdom on Sunday," the BBC said. The Saudi official claimed that the regulations of the Gulf Cooperation Council provide for such help and that the forces would be under command of the nation's government they had entered.

The Bahrain's opposition termed the troop intervention as 'foreign invasion', and vowed to resist what they  described as 'occupying forces' as thousands of protesters for the second day in running cut off Bahrain's financial centre, driving back repeated attempts by the police to eject them from the capital Manama's Central Square.

The rolling in of foreign forces comes a day after the tiny Gulf Kingdom -- home to the United States 5th Fleet – witnessed its worst violence since seven anti-government protesters were killed in clashes with security forces last month. Earlier, The Guardian had reported that the Bahrain crown prince had formally invited security forces into his country as part of a request for support from other members of the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council.

Opposition parliamentarian Ali al-Aswad, who is spearheading the agitation said, "The people will treat the foreign forces as occupying forces. We won't allow any foreign intervention." Gulf media reports also said that demonstrators and government supporters had held competing protests at the Bahrain University, which led to the clashes.

The Saudi intervention came just a day after US defence secretary Robert Gates visited the country and told the royal family that they needed to enact substantial economic and political change. Opposition protesters are demanding far-reaching democratic reform in the mainly Shiite country, which has been ruled by the sunni muslim dynasty for more than 200 years. Shias form around 70 per cent of the Kingdom's population of 5,25,000.

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