At least 200 people were shot and wounded on Tuesday in a Shiite village south of the Bahraini capital, a medic said, as the king imposed a state of emergency after bringing in Saudi and Emirati troops to help quell anti-regime protests.
As violence escalated, close ally the United States warned that there was “no military solution” to political upheaval in Bahrain and that any violence against peacefully expressed political demands “should be stopped.”
“More than 200 people we received today had been shot with buckshot,” a hospital doctor in the village of Sitra, south of the capital, told news agency by telephone on Tuesday.The doctor, who asked that his name not be used, said the hospital was under siege by armed gangs and security forces targeting Shiites the backbone of anti-regime protests that have raged for a month.
Neighbouring Iran condemned Monday’s intervention by Saudi-led Gulf troops to help put down the protests, prompting Manama to recall its ambassador.
Thousands of protesters marched to the Saudi embassy, chanting slogans against the king and vowing to defend the country from the “occupation” forces, as unrest in the tiny country became a regional diplomatic crisis.
The financial district of Manama a regional banking hub was deserted for a third day except for anti-government protesters.Sunni and Shiite vigilantes were on the streets in various parts of the capital and in rural villages.
A Shiite protester and a member of the security forces were killed in separate incidents in the south, amid unconfirmed reports of bloody clashes outside the capital.
In Manama, the protesters brandished banners against the king.They also called for unity between Sunnis and Shiites in the mainly Shiite country, which has been ruled by a Sunni dynasty for more than 200 years.
Police and foreign forces were nowhere to be seen there, witnesses said.State television interrupted normal programming to announce a three-month state of emergency in the strategic Gulf state, which is home to the US Fifth Fleet and hosts major international banks and financial institutions.
“The Commander in Chief of the Bahrain Defence Force has been mandated to take the measures and procedures necessary to preserve the safety of the nation and its people,” it said, adding that “other forces” could also be used if necessary.
Armoured troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates had earlier rolled across the causeway from Saudi’s Eastern Province to help Manama tackle pro-democracy protests shaking the kingdom.