Bahraini government forces have moved to clear the focal point of protests by the Gulf Arab state’s Shi’ite Muslim majority. Troops were backed by helicopters.
A Shi’ite member of parliament denounced the Sunni-led government assault on the capital Manama’s Pearl Roundabout as a declaration of war on his community.
The latest crackdown appeared to raise the stakes in the crisis. It did not appear that foreign forces invited in by the government for support were involved in the operation. But the recent arrival of Saudi troops in the island monarchy reflects region-wide hostility between Sunni Gulf Arab countries and non-Arab Shi’ite Iran.
Riot police blocked access to Manama’s Salmaniya hospital, and witnesses said others were also blocked. Martial law is in force; the United States, United Nations and Britain have called for restraint.