Soldiers and riot police used tear gas and armoured vehicles on Wednesday to drive out hundreds of anti—government protesters occupying a landmark square in Bahrain’s capital, a day after emergency rule was imposed in the violence—wracked Gulf kingdom. At least six people were killed, according to witnesses and officials.
The full—scale assault launched at daybreak swept into Pearl Square, which has been the centre of uprising against Bahrain’s rulers since it began more than a month ago. Stinging clouds of tear gas filled streets and black smoke rose from the square from the protesters’ tents set ablaze.
Witnesses said at least two protesters were killed when the square was stormed. Officials at Ibn Nafees Hospital said a third protester later died from gunshot wounds in his back. The witnesses spoke on condition of anonymity because of fears of reprisals from authorities.
Meanwhile, Bahrain state TV also reported that two policemen died when they were hit by a vehicle after anti—government protesters were driven out. The Interior Ministry also said at least one other policeman was killed, but did not give the cause.
It was unclear whether the offensive included soldiers from other Gulf nations who were dispatched to help Bahrain’s Sunni monarchy, which has been under relentless pressure from the country’s majority Shiite Muslims to give up its monopoly on power.
And yes, just to make things worse, it's a Sunni vs. Shi'a fight too. Iran (Shi'a) is furious that Saudi Arabia (Sunni) is helping Bahrain's Sunni monarchy to oppress the country's Shi'a poor. As such, many observers are seeing the events in Bahrain as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Then again, isn't every conflict on the Middle East basically the same?
And let's not forget the US Navy's Fifth Fleet is headquartered in Bahrain. That's the major factor that does differentiate this mess from other Middle East internal uprisings.