MANAMA: Frenzied clashes swept Bahrain yesterday, as the kingdom declared a three-month state of emergency that gave the state’s military chief wide authority to battle protesters demanding political reforms and equal rights for Shias.
A day after Gulf troops entered the country, disturbances shook the kingdom through the day. A hospital source said two men, one Bahraini and the other Bangladeshi, were killed in clashes in the Shia area of Sitra and more than 200 people were wounded in various incidents. State television said a Bahraini policeman was also killed, denying media reports that a Saudi soldier had been shot dead.
“In order for the situation to return to normal we have to establish order and security and ... stop the violations which have spread disturbances among the people of our dear country,” said Interior Minister Sheikh Rashed Al Khalifa.
Analysts said the troop movement showed concern in Saudi Arabia that any concessions in Bahrain could inspire the kingdom’s own Shia minority.
Iran criticised the decision to send in Saudi troops. “The presence of foreign forces and interference in Bahrain’s internal affairs is unacceptable and will further complicate the issue,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said in Tehran. A Bahraini foreign ministry official called the remarks “blatant interference in Bahrain’s internal affairs”, the state news agency BNA said, adding that Manama had recalled its ambassador to Iran for consultations.
Thousands of Bahrainis marched on the Saudi Embassy in Manama to protest against the intervention. “People are angry, we want this occupation to end. We don’t want anybody to help the Al Khalifa or us,” said a protester. Violent clashes between youths wielding clubs, knives and rocks have become daily occurrences, forcing Bahrain University and many schools to close in order to avoid further trouble.
Armed youths attacked the printing press of Bahrain’s only opposition newspaper Al Wasat overnight in an effort to stop its publication. Metal barricades and piles of sand and rocks blocked the main road to the financial district and most shops were shut.
Around Bahrain, residents have placed skips, bins and pieces of metal on the road, to prevent strangers from entering their neighbourhoods. Young men, some wearing masks and carrying sticks, guarded the entrances to their areas.
The United States dispatched Assistant Secretary of State Jeff Feltman to Bahrain to push for dialogue to resolve the crisis. The largest Shia opposition group, Wefaq, condemned the imposition of emergency rule and urged international intervention.
Follow us on our social media channels: