Bahrain tears down symbolic pearl statue
Manama - Bahrain tore down on Friday the statue at the centre of Pearl roundabout, focal point and symbol of weeks of pro-democracy protests in the Gulf island kingdom.
Drills and diggers cut away at the six bases of the statue for hours, until it collapsed into a mound of rubble and steel bars. Trucks stood by to take away the debris.
The concrete statue of six dhow sails holding up a pearl was erected in the early 1980s to mark a summit of formation of the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC).
Each of the six sails represents one of the members of the GCC, which include Bahrain, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Oman. The pearl represents the joint heritage of the Gulf countries, whose economies were based on pearl fishing before the discovery of oil.
Mainly Shi'ite protesters had taken over the grass-covered roundabout near the financial district of Manama during weeks of protests, setting up a tent city where free food was handed out and political speeches and rallies were held into the night.
Bahraini riot police launched a crackdown on the Pearl roundabout protest camp on Wednesday, driving out demonstrators. Military troops later arrived to seal off the area which is under a 12-hour daily curfew.