Chaos and crying at Bahrain hospital

2011-02-18 07:41

Manama - The screaming was nearly unbearable, almost as loud as the sirens on the ambulances delivering wounded protesters to the Salmaniya Medical Complex.

Victims came by the dozens - some hit with birdshot, others beaten and broken by the riot police who had destroyed the encampment at Manama's Pearl Square in a pre dawn raid on Thursday, an attack aimed at quelling dissent in this Gulf kingdom.

Soon Salmaniya was overrun, even though at least one driver wasn't allowed to pick up patients.

A paramedic said police stopped his ambulance on the way to the square and told him to turn back. When he refused, he was pulled out of the vehicle and beaten. His face was bruised and his body aching from the beating.

"I had to turn back, they were threatening us, calling us sympathizers with the protesters," he said, near tears. The paramedic spoke on condition of anonymity because of fears of reprisals from authorities.

As the closest hospital to the scene, Salmaniya bore the worst of the rush when wounded demonstrators made their way in for treatment. Those who weren't picked up by ambulances got rides from friends or relatives in private cars.

The overall toll from the melee, according to medical officials: at least four dead and more than 200 injured.

Bleeding heavily

At the emergency room, the body of one dead man was a mess of bloody pockmarks after being hit with police shotgun pellets. Other protesters were bleeding heavily from head wounds, had broken bones or were badly bruised. Nurses rushed in more patients on stretchers.

All the wounded seemed to be in shock or devastated - or both - while outside the emergency room about 100 angry relatives and protesters gathered, many still draped in the flags they wore to the demonstration.

Two angry men rushed out of the emergency room carrying framed pictures of King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and the prime minister - both members of the ruling dynasty - which were hanging inside. They smashed the portraits to the ground and stomped over the glass and splintered frames.

A man paced the pavement holding his hands up in prayer. Another tied a white piece of cloth around his forehead, the Islamic symbol of being willing to face death.

Cutting through it all were the wails of women, as piercing as any siren. Some tried to console each other, others tore at their robes, screaming "The people want the removal of the regime"!

There was one quiet space a short distance away - the morgue, which is in a separate building.

Shell-shocked

There, the father of one young men who died in the clashes sat shell-shocked, watching the news through furious, bloodshot eyes.

Makki Abu Taki said he was woken up early by one of his other sons telling him that 27-year old Mahmoud had been killed.

"I am proud that my son was martyred. I am not angry he died," said Abu Taki, 57. "But he was asleep, peaceful and they killed him in cold blood."

Abu Taki said Mahmoud had spent two nights in Pearl Square. In the last conversation with his father, he said he was fine.

"We are even angrier now. They think they can clamp down on us, but they have made us angrier," shouted Abu Taki his voice ringing in the morgue.

"We will take to the streets in larger numbers and honour our martyrs. The time for Al Khalifa has ended."

- AP
Read more on:    bahrain
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