herald

Sunday 19 August 2018

Wave of uprisings spreads as 50 hurt at Bahrain protest

Security forces opened fire on protesters in Bahrain for a second day, wounding at least 50 people as thousands defied the government in an uprising that seeks to break the political grip of the Gulf nation's leaders.

Again, authorities showed no hesitation in using force against demonstrators in the capital Manama, who marched towards Pearl Square, stepping up their demands to bring down the ruling monarchy.

US president Barack Obama condemned the use of violence against the protesters in Bahrain, as well as in Libya and Yemen, where heavy crackdowns by old-guard regimes were reported.

A Libyan doctor said 35 protesters were killed in the eastern city of Benghazi during a confrontation with security forces, while four people were killed and 48 wounded during protests called as part of a 'Friday of Rage' in Yemen.

In Bahrain, critically-injured protesters were again rushed to Manama's main Salmaniya hospital, which also received the dead and wounded after riot police smashed a protest encampment early on Thursday in the landmark square.

Some medics were in tears as they tended to the wounded. X-rays showed bullets still lodged inside victims.

"This is a war," said Dr Bassem Deif, an orthopaedic surgeon examining people with bullet-shattered bones.

Of the 50 injured, seven were critical, a health ministry official said. Seven people have died in Bahrain's unrest this week, including five on Thursday, and more than 200 have been wounded.



Chaotic

Protesters described a chaotic scene of tear gas clouds, bullets from many directions and people slipping in pools of blood as they sought cover yesterday. Some claimed the gunfire came from either helicopters or sniper nests.

Army units fired anti-aircraft weapons, fitted on top of armoured personnel carriers, above the protesters, in what were apparent warning shots and attempts to drive them back from security cordons about 200 yards from the square.

Then the soldiers turned firearms on the crowd, one marcher said.

"People started running in all directions and bullets were flying," said Ali al-Haji, a 27-year-old bank clerk. "I saw people getting shot in the legs, chest, and one man was bleeding from his head."

The clash came hours after funeral mourners and worshippers at Friday prayers called for the toppling of the Western-allied monarchy in the tiny island nation that is home to the US Navy's Fifth Fleet, the centrepiece of the Pentagon's efforts to confront Iranian military influence.

hnews@herald.ie

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