Army patrols and tanks locked down the capital of Bahrain today after riot police swinging clubs and firing tear gas smashed into demonstrators.
The Shia majority vowed to topple the Sunni regime earlier this week.
Voice of America reported:
Bahrain’s military says it has taken control of parts of the capital after riot police stormed a main square in Manama early Thursday to drive out thousands of demonstrators.
Protesters demanding sweeping political change had set up camp in Pearl Square.
Security forces firing tear gas, percussion grenades and rubber bullets moved into the square before dawn, attacking the mostly Shi’ite protesters – including women and children – who had occupied the area since Tuesday. Witnesses say at least four people have been killed. Many injured people were rushed to local hospitals.
Meanwhile, a member of the leading Shi’ite al-Wefaq party says the opposition party may quit parliament. Earlier, Al-Wefaq leaders said the group’s 18 deputies would not return to the 40-member parliament until King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa agreed to transform the nation into a constitutional democracy with an elected government.
The Wall Street Journal reported that seven opposition groups, including al-Wefaq, had announced their formation of a committee to help coordinate protest activity and unify the protesters’ demands. The Journal said the committee plans large demonstrations on Saturday.
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Rumors are that the Shiite Iranian regime is behind the protests in Bahrain.
The US has operated a naval base in Bahrain since 1947.
UPDATE: The tanks that are rolling into Manama are reportedly Saudi tanks. Via Twitpic: Saudi? Tanks on the road into MANAMA BAHRAIN… against peaceful civilian protestors!!