Death toll: Three people were killed and 231 wounded in a police operation to clear protesters from a Manama square Thursday, Bahrain's health minister said. Faisal bin Yaqoob al-Hamer told Reuters that 36 people were still being treated, including one in intensive care.
A barrage of tear gas canisters thundered across the square about 3 a.m. as dozens of police cars, armored security vehicles and ambulances converged on a makeshift tent city in the center of Manama [#173] that was beginning to resemble a smaller version of Tahrir Square in Cairo, where Egyptian protesters this month were successful in overthrowing their president.
After a peaceful, festive evening, most of the protesters in Pearl Square were asleep when the attack began, witnesses said, noting that no steps had been taken to guard the area against the security forces, even though two people had been killed in clashes with them earlier in the week.
That's very unlike the self-organizing abilities displayed by the Egyptians. Again, from my Barcalounger, that's down to lack of social capital.
"They told us we had three days in the square," said one man as he ran from the scene. "And then they attack us on the second day."
And that will be remembered.
As flashing blue police car lights cast an eerie strobe effect down side streets and a helicopter swooped overhead, packs of young men with bandannas covering their faces to thwart billowing clouds of gas fled the area, flashing V signs while shouting slogans and warnings.
A pack is not a crowd.
"Get away! They'll shoot you! They'll shoot anyone they think is Bahraini!" some called. Security forces in Bahrain are often recruited from neighboring nations or Southeast Asia.
Note the split, and contrast between the King's mercenaries and the Egyptian conscript Army.
"We were shouting: 'Peaceful! Peaceful!' " [#7] in imitation of the Tahrir Square protesters, a woman in a hospital hallway said as she tearfully held a small child being treated with oxygen. "Tomorrow the king will say, 'Sorry,' but this was done with his permission. He is the one telling these men to do these things."
And that, too, will be remembered. Ultimately, that will prove to be a delegitimizing move by the king. Fail until you succeed!
NOTE Kudos to the LA Times for putting some reporters on the ground here, even if they could have saved some airfare covering the same story in Wisconsin.
UPDATE AJE is running a live blog (quelle surprise):
15:45pm The F1 Bahrain Grand Prix scheduled for three weeks time is in serious doubt [That's a real message to the global elite --lambert]. The track warm-up event for this weekend (Gp2 Asia series race) has just been canceled due to protests. The circuit had no medical workers available after they were all called to work at hospitals. [Of course, a completely ruthless regime wouldn't let that happen. So there's hope! --lambert]
16:06pm Al Jazeera's correspondent in Bahrain reports that the hospitals are full of injured people after last night’s police raid on the protesters. Some of them are severely injured with gunshots. Patients include doctors and emergency personnel who were overrun by the police while trying to attend to the wounded [So much for the professional classes --lambert].
17:02pm Al Jazeera's correspondent says that three more bodies are being kept in the morgue of Salmaniya hospital. There are also reports of another victim - a young girl. [More funeral processions. --lambert] Two more patients are fighting for their lives in the hospital. There are also a lot of missing people. A medical source told our correspondent that the army may have taken away bodies in a refrigerated truck.
17:31pm The latest audio update from one of our web producers at the Salmaniya hospital where pro-reform demonstrators were gathering and chanting "With our spirit and our blood we sacrifice ourselves for you martyr" and "Hussein, Hussein", a Shia specific chant in reference to Imam Hussein [#7]:
17:55pm The Bahraini opposition has called for the government to resign following the deadly police raid on anti-regime protesters in Manama, the head of a Shiite opposition bloc says. Al-Wefaq leader Ali Salman:
The opposition groups, including Al-Wefaq, have issued a statement [#4] demanding the government resign and calling for the formation of a new government to investigate this crime.
UPDATE Big Orange's top poster writes on Bahrein, accomplishing the notable feat of actually subtracting value from Kristof via exegetical prolixity.