Bahrain locks down as uprising surges

2011-03-16 22:28

Manama - Soldiers and riot police in Bahrain overran a protesters' camp, imposed a 12-hour curfew and choked off movement nationwide on Wednesday.

Witnesses described helicopters firing on homes in a hunt for Shi'ites and attacking doctors treating the wounded, while the government called the demonstrators "outlaws" for demanding an end to the monarchy.

The nation that once led the Middle East in entrepreneurial openness went into lockdown, its government propped up by troops from Sunni Gulf neighbours fearful for their own rule and the spread of Shi'ite Iran's influence.

The unrest that began last month increasingly looks like a sectarian showdown: The country's Sunni leaders are desperate to hold power and majority Shi'ites want more rights and an end to their dynasty.

Wednesday's assault began in Pearl Square, the centre of the uprising inspired by Arab revolts in Egypt and Tunisia.

The violence, however, left at least five people dead on Wednesday and it did not stop in the capital.

Doctors at the country's main hospital said their facility was taken over by security forces, effectively blocking physicians from either leaving or treating the wounded on-site.

The king's announcement of a three-month emergency rule and the crackdown on Pearl Square sent a message that authorities would  strike back in the strategic island nation, which hosts the US Navy's 5th Fleet.

President Barack Obama called King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain to express deep concern over the violence.

White House spokesperson Jay Carney said Obama stressed the need for "maximum restraint."

Security forces barred journalists and others from moving freely.

A 16:00 to 04:00 curfew was imposed in most of the country.

  • za101 - 2011-03-17 00:27

    funny how the saudis can send their troops to defend the king of bahrain but cant send their army to save protect the palestinian people

      Wessel - 2011-03-17 06:56

      Thats not 'funy' pal it's just life...what is PATHETIC is fact that USA,United Kingdom, France, ALL the great FIRST WORLD countries have NOTHNG to say about the whole issue...Hillary Clinton the 'boss of boses' not a peep.....0IL,OIL,OIL and more OIL. We the human race are indeed a sad sad vicious,disgrace.....I am ashamed to be a so called 'human'its become a term of embarrasment........we offer nothing and even when we do we want recognition or personal reward.

  • jontheb - 2011-03-17 07:09

    How about a no-fly zone over Bahrain and Saudi...oh wait...Saudi probably has more operational US made fighter jets than the US in that region, plus they're big trade buddies - and MONEY speaks WAY louder in the states than ethics!!!

  • clarence.hiles - 2011-03-17 07:37

    can you please correct you article. the curfew is a tiny part of the country which consist of myabe 5 sqaure kilometers. i would appreciate it if u get your facts right before you put them in your articles. as far as security forces blocking the salminya hospital goes that is also a big load of rubbish. how do i know this? becuase i live in bahrain!

      Bloedrivier - 2011-03-17 08:07

      Agree, I work in Bahrain, and the picture projected to the outside world is totally wrong. The protesters claim they have been shot at with "Apache" gunships and tanks, yet I witnessed the events first hand from the 9th floor balcony of our building, and this never happened. The police and defence force moved slowly in to Pearl Roundabout without one shot being fired while the protesters left on their own. While leaving though, the protesters set fire to their own tents and threw gas bottles in the flames to cause explosions. In the haste to evacuate the area, a protester ran over and killed two policeman. All the time the helicopters were hovering right above us, not firing one shot. Yet these protesters keep on claiming they are peaceful. And they broke down and destroyed infrastructure in order to build roadblocks. I don't choose sides, but these protesters caused this island a lot of material and economical damage. The forces tried to intervene with non-lethal methods, but had to retaliate when their own lives were at risk. And if you were fired at by tanks and gunships, you won't only have six fatalities, you would have 600.

  • reesesm - 2011-03-17 08:15

    I too live in Bahrain and can confirm what Clarence says. The story above is a load of crap!! News24 should stop reprinting stories that they are unable to verify. Shame on you News24. And to za101, Wessel and jontheb, until you come and live in the Middle East it is probably better for you to keep your ill informed mouths shut!

      willa.duplessis - 2011-03-17 10:51

      I tried to point that out to the yesterday reesesm but it seems my posts were conveniently deleted by news24....

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