Authorities in Bahrain have torn down a statue in Manama’s Pearl Square, the focal point for anti-government protests in the small Gulf state.
The government said it was an effort to erase “bad memories”.
Last weekend saw clashes as protests began hitting business. An escalation in tension culminated in a security crackdown in midweek.
At least nine people were reported killed, including six police officers.
The US condemned the authorities’ use of force; the UN’s human rights chief, Navi Pillay, called it “shocking and illegal”.
The outside world is watching closely – but some influential figures do not put the repression on a par with that in Libya.
The British Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, said:
“I think it would be wrong to try and draw neat comparisons between the situation in Bahrain – the tensions between the Sunni and the Shia communities there – and the decades of brutal abuse of the human rights and freedoms of people in Libya by an authoritarian regime under Colonel Gaddafi.”
The opposition has condemned as an invasion the arrival of troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to restore order.
Bahrain says more are on their way.
Much is at stake in the region, with the Saudis alarmed at the prospect of a Shi’ite revolution in its neighbouring country.