The Bahrain military and police cracked down on protesters early this morning in Pearl Square. The New York Times reports:
MANAMA, Bahrain — The Bahrain military, backed by tanks and armored personnel carriers, took control of most of this capital on Thursday hours after hundreds of heavily armed riot police officers fired shotguns, tear gas and concussion grenades to break up a pro-democracy camp inspired by the tumult swirling across the Middle East.
Soldiers took up positions on foot, controlled traffic and told demonstrators that any further protests would be banned. The intervention came after police, without warning, rushed into Pearl Square in the early hours of the morning, in a crackdown on demonstrators who were sleeping there as part of a widening protest against the nation’s absolute monarchy.
At least five people died, some of them reportedly killed in their sleep with scores of shotgun pellets to the face and chest, according to a witness and three doctors who received the dead and at least 200 wounded at a hospital here. The witness and the physicians spoke in return for anonymity for fear of official reprisals.
A long convoy of armored military vehicles rolled into Manama and news reports quoted a military spokesman as saying the deployment was to defend people and property. In an announcement on state television, the military said it had “key parts” of Manama “under control.”
The AP reports that the Obama administration has expressed "deep concern."
The Obama administration is expressing alarm over a violent crackdown on anti-government protesters in key U.S. ally Bahrain and urging authorities there to use restraint.
The State Department said Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called Bahrain's foreign minister on Thursday to register Washington's "deep concern" about overnight developments. Army patrols and tanks locked down the capital of the tiny Gulf kingdom after riot police fired tear gas and beat demonstrators demanding political reforms. At least four people were killed and the official said Clinton spoke with the foreign minister about how to respond to the protesters' demands.