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Wed 16 Mar 2011 11:40 AM

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Two Bahrain policemen killed as violence spreads

Martial law declared as Saudi, UAE troops try to clear protesters from Manama's streets

Two Bahrain policemen killed as violence spreads
Black smoke billows from burning tents in Pearl Square in Bahraini capital Manama on March 16, 2011 (Getty Images)
Two Bahrain policemen killed as violence spreads
Bahraini National guard arrest a man believed to be a journalist as he walked towards Pearl Roundabout in the Bahraini capital Manama, on March 16, 2011 (Getty Images)
Two Bahrain policemen killed as violence spreads
Black smoke billows from burning tents in Pearl Square in Bahraini capital Manama on March 16, 2011, after Bahraini police killed at least two protesters and wounded dozens more as they assaulted a peaceful protest camp in the capitals Pearl Roundabout, an opposition party official said (Getty Images)
Two Bahrain policemen killed as violence spreads
Black smoke billows from burning tents in Pearl Square in Bahraini capital Manama on March 16, 2011, after Bahraini police killed at least two protesters and wounded dozens more as they assaulted a peaceful protest camp in the capitals Pearl Roundabout, an opposition party official said (Getty Images)

Two Bahraini policemen were killed on Wednesday in an operation to clear protesters from a central roundabout where they have been camped for weeks, a health official said. [latest photos]

The two policemen were knocked down by protesters driving in cars at high speeds, the official said. It was not clear how many protesters were hurt.

Bahrain security forces used tear gas to drive protesters from their rallying point at the central Pearl Roundabout in Manama, after Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries sent military support.

The mostly Shiite Muslim demonstrators fled into nearby backstreets as military vehicles were deployed near the area and helicopters flew overhead. Gunfire was heard in the capital.

Riot police put out fires with water cannons and began to fan out into the city streets after Pearl Roundabout was emptied. The stock market suspended trading.

Bahrain on Tuesday declared a three-month state of emergency after troops from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states arrived in the kingdom to help quell a month-long protest movement driven by the majority Shiites in the Gulf island kingdom, who are calling for democracy and civil rights. Some opposition groups taking part in the protests have escalated their demands to include the overthrow of the Sunni rulers, the Al Khalifa family, and the declaration of a republic.

“This is a very tricky, delicate moment, and I wouldn’t be surprised if things get a lot worse,” David Ottaway, senior scholar at the Washington-based Woodrow Wilson Center, said in a telephone interview yesterday. “One key thing is whether these foreign troops get involved directly in crowd control and whether we see the foreign troops using force.”

Bahraini police opened fire on protesters in the village of Sitra yesterday, the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights said. At least two people were killed and 250 people injured during clashes, Ali Al-Akri, a doctor in the emergency room of the Salmaniya Medical Complex, said in an interview.

Clashes between protesters and government forces escalated on March 13, with more than 100 people injured as demonstrators demanded democracy through elections from their Sunni monarch. King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa yesterday asked the military to ensure security, state television said.

The rallies have fuelled Saudi fears that unrest may spread to the kingdom, which holds about 20 percent of global oil reserves and, like Bahrain, has a Shiite community which complains of discrimination. Bahrain’s Shiites make up about 70 percent of the population and many retain cultural and family ties with Iran as well as with Shiites in Saudi Arabia, who are a minority of about 10 to 15 percent.

Saudi Shiites have been holding protests every Thursday and Friday for the past few weeks in towns and villages a short drive from the Bahrain causeway connecting the two countries. They have demanded the release of Shiite prisoners held without public trial since 1996.

Troops from the Gulf Cooperation Council, including Saudi Arabia, moved into Bahrain March 14, the first cross-border intervention since a wave of popular uprisings swept through parts of the Arab world.

Continued on next page...

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said yesterday that Bahrain’s rulers must immediately start talks with the opposition on a political resolution. German Deputy Foreign Minister Werner Hoyer said the conflict is domestic and should not be solved by foreign troops.

Opposition groups slammed the involvement of foreign soldiers. Ebrahim Sharif, head of the opposition National Democratic Action Society, called the GCC deployment “an occupation.” Hassan al-Mubarak, a 43-year-old protester, said the intervention won’t persuade the opposition to give way. “If we don’t win this, we lose everything,” he said.

The GCC forces will protect “vital installations” in Bahrain, said Jamal Fakhro, the first deputy chairman of the Bahrain Shura Council, in a telephone interview yesterday. He said that the declaration of a state of emergency followed the failure of peaceful efforts to find a solution, and that Bahrain “is looking into an abyss.”

To help Bahrain finance social spending that would meet some opposition demands, Gulf states said on March 10 that they plan to provide the country with $10bn over a decade. Oman, which has also experienced popular protests, was allocated a similar sum.

“The GCC stands behind the Sunni-controlled monarchies in the region,” said Gala Riani, a Middle East analyst at London- based forecaster IHS Global Insight. “It is not a political structure they are willing to negotiate on.”

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Cherian Raj 9 years ago

How dare the dictators of GCC Countries, Saudi and UAE, sent troops to suppress the protesters in Bahrain? They are fighting with the protesters brutally, and stopped the doctors in Salmiya hospital , from treating the injured.. What answer Obama Government can give to the world?
But nobody can suppress the people in Bahrain. They are strong enough to face any situation, until they achive the success. Before I thought of against Iran. But now I know clearly Iran is far far better than US. There is no descrimination between sunni and shittie. Both are muslims. These are the western play. So the 'Dictator King' are also happy for this play so that they can become the RULERS of GCC country till the world exist, only criteria is just to born in the royal SAKE family.

Extra 9 years ago

Your use of the word "dare" is funny; it implies that you actually have the power or authority to punish those whom you accuse of committing such attrocious actions.

Don't use the word dare. Use a different word, one that signifies your..nothingness. One that highlights your skills as an internet warrior and nothing more.

The "dictators" of the Gulf treat their citizens better than most democratically elected presidents and prime ministers of the world. Compare the riches that India has versus that of the Gulf. You will never see a GCC citizen herding goats and cows in Bangladesh; but you'll see plenty of Bangladeshis doing just that in the deserts of the GCC!

So as i said, don't use the word 'dare'. You can't do anything. A dictator that provides for his citizens is better than a democratically elected thieving prime minister.