Thousands of Bahrainis have joined funeral processions for three people killed in a government crackdown on protesters.
Bahrain’s security forces moved in on anti-government protesters in the early hours of Thursday morning. Three deaths have been confirmed and it is known that more than 230 people were injured. Dozens more were detained.
Police cleared Pearl Square in the capital Manama where demonstrators had been camping out to call on their Sunni leaders to grant them greater rights and freedoms.
Bahrain has been ruled by a Sunni minority since the 18th century. 70 percent of its population are Shias.
State television showed images of knives and firearms which authorities claim were found in tents belonging to the protesters.
Eyewitnesses say police shot pellets, rubber bullets and tear gas to force them out of the square. Bahrain’s top Shia cleric has called the police attack a “massacre” and said that the government has shut the door to dialogue.
Foreign Minister Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmed al-Khalifa has rejected that account, saying police “took every care possible.”
He added the action was necessary to pull the country back from “the brink of a sectarian abyss.”
Bahrain’s main opposition Shia bloc has said it was quitting parliament for good in protest at the security forces’ actions.