Monday 21 August 2017

Tanks roll in to crush Bahrain protests

Praveen Swami in Manama

Tanks rolled into Bahrain's capital city Manama last night to crush fresh protests that resulted in five deaths and hundreds of injuries.

In what was described as a day of "annihilation" at least three protesters were killed after police -- backed by tanks and helicopters -- used tear gas, rubber bullets and live ammunition to clear crowds from the city's symbolic Pearl Square.

The government said two police officers were also killed.

US President Barack Obama called King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain's King Hamad bin Issa al-Khalifa to express "deep concern" about the crackdown. British Prime Minister David Cameron had also made an unsuccessful appeal for restraint hours before the crackdown.

But a senior Bahrain government official said the royal family defied the appeal because it "fears meeting the fate of Hosni Mubarak", Egypt's ousted president.

Like Mr Mubarak, Bahrain's royal family has been a long-standing ally of the US and is worried Washington could "pull the rug from under its feet".

More than 1,000 Saudi troops entered Bahrain on Monday, in response to a call from King Hamad.

This followed a weekend of violence in which protesters appeared to be overwhelming the Emirate's police force. Yesterday, Saudi soldiers carrying machine guns surrounded the Salmaniya Medical Complex and stopped injured protesters from seeking medical aid.

The protesters have been calling for parliament to be given greater powers, and for an end to discrimination against the kingdom's Shia majority by its Sunni rulers. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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