Thursday, February 17, 2011

Clashes spread in Bahraini capital

Armoured vehicles seen on the streets of Manama after police storm protest site in roundabout, killing at least three.


"Sporadic clashes have broken out in the Bahraini capital of Manama, hours after riot police attacked a makeshift encampment of pro-reform protesters in the centre of the city, killing at least three and injuring dozens of others.

An Al Jazeera correspondent, who cannot be named for security reasons, said on Thursday that "clashes were no longer limited to one place...they are now spread out in different parts of the city".

Another Al Jazeera online producer said that booms could be heard from different parts of the city, suggesting that "tear-gas is being used to disperse the protesters in several neighbourhoods".

There were also reports of dozens of armoured vehicles moving towards the Pearl Roundabout, the protest site that was raided by the riot police.

Heavily-armed police stormed the traffic circle while the protesters camping overnight were asleep.

Speaking to Al Jazeera from Salmaniya hospital, the main medical facility in Manama, Maryama Alkawaka of Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, said that she saw dozens of injured demonstrators being wheeled into emergency rooms early on Thursday morning.....

An Al Jazeera correspondent in the Pearl Roundabout area, said that he heard loud booms in the square, and felt a strong tear gas in the air.

"The police came in a quick move, using tear gas. It looks like they are trying to move the protesters away from the square, but this is no small protest," he said.

"Authorities are acting because they see clearly how big this is getting."

Matar Ibrahim, an opposition member of the parliament, said that women and children were among the injured.

Speaking to Al Jazeera from Salmaniya hospital, he also said that at least that many of the wounded were in critical condition.....

But Alkwaka, the human rights activist, said that the fresh crackdown on peaceful protesters cast a doubt on the king's pledge for investigation and calm.

"People are now asking: is this the investigation that the king promised?" she asked.

A key ally of the US in the region, Bahrain houses a major military base for Washington."

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