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Rediff.com  » News » In PHOTOS: Bahrain 'cleans up' Pearl Square

In PHOTOS: Bahrain 'cleans up' Pearl Square

Last updated on: February 17, 2011 14:28 IST

Bahrain 'cleans up' Pearl Square

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Determined not to let Pearl Square turn into another Tahrir Square, authorities in Bahrain reacted with force on pro-reform protestors who had gathered at the main square in Bahraini capital Manama.

In an early Thursday morning charge, riot police cracked down on protestors camping at the square. Most of them were asleep and were caught unawares. Within a matter of time, the Square was 'cleaned up'.

At least four protestors have reported been killed and over 100 badly injured as riot police fired tear gas shells and rubber bullets into the campsite, which had become the hub for demands to bring sweeping political changes to the kingdom, and then baton charged the demonstrators.

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Image: Cranes move at the Bahrain Pearl roundabout to clear the tents set up by protesters in Manama
Photographs: Hamad I Mohammed/Reuters
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'The people were in the middle, attacked from both sides'

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Mohammed al-Maskati, head of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights, in an interview to the Washington Post said: "The people were in the middle, attacked from both sides. The people tried to run away in the villages." 

Maryama Alkawaka, another member of the BYSHR, told Al Jazeera that she saw dozens of injured demonstrators being wheeled into emergency rooms at the Salmaniya hospital, the main medical facility in Manama.

The BYSHR, in its updates on Twitter, alleged that Bahraini Health Minister Dr Faisal Al Hamar had directed the hospital staff not to deal with the demonstrators.

Social networking websites are abuzz with calls to press ahead with the protests as well as insults from presumed government backers who called the demonstrators traitors and agents of Shiite powerhouse Iran, agencies reported.


Image: A Bahrain protester injured during clashes with police is rushed to an operation theatre in Manama
Photographs: Hamad I Mohammed/Reuters
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Tanks and APCs line up at protest zone

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Media agencies reported seeing tanks and armoured personnel carriers near the protest zone. Police checkpoints have been set up along main roadways and armed patrols are moving through neighbourhoods to thwart any mass gatherings.

The small island kingdom in the Gulf has little oil resource of its own, but it is home to a thriving regional banking and financial-services sector, and hosts the US Fifth Fleet, the naval command in charge of Persian Gulf.

Thousands of protesters took to the streets on Monday, inspired by the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt. One person was killed on Wednesday when police fired at a group of protesters holding a funeral procession for a man killed during protests a day earlier. 


Image: A policeman confronts a protester
Photographs: Hamad I Mohammed/Reuters
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Bahrain's authorities say they had no choice

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King Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa had made a rare television appearance on Tuesday in which he expressed his condolences for 'the deaths of two of our dear sons" and said that a panel would probe into the deaths of the demonstrators.

Meanwhile, Bahrain's authorities said they had no choice.

"The security forces evacuated Pearl Square ... after having exhausted all chance of dialogue," Interior Ministry spokesman General Tarek al-Hassan said, in a statement from the official news agency BNA.

"Some left the place of their own accord, while others refused to submit to the law, which required an intervention to disperse them," he said.

The protests have two main objectives -- Force the ruling Sunni monarchy to give up its control over top government posts and all critical decisions; and address deep grievances held by the country's majority Shiites who claim they face systematic discrimination and are effectively blocked from key roles in public service and the military.


Image: Hours before the riot police stepped in, protesters are seen sitting near a traditional Arabic shisha pipe as they camp out at the Pearl Roundabout
Photographs: Hamad I Mohammed/Reuters
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