Saudi forces attack main hospital in Manama

March 17, 2011 - 0:0

MANAMA -- Saudi forces on Wednesday stormed a Manama's hospital where hundreds of people were receiving treatment for injuries suffered in clashes with government forces a day earlier.

Saudi troops forced their way into Salmaniya hospital and did not allow doctors, nurses and relatives of the victims either to leave or to enter the building, Press TV reported.
The report came as Bahraini police killed at least five protesters and wounded hundreds more on Wednesday as they assaulted a peaceful protest camp in the capital's Pearl Square.
The attack occurred two days after Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Qatar dispatched troops to Bahrain to put down anti-Khalifa-regime protests in the tiny Persian Gulf state.
Foreign military intervention in Bahrain has concerned UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who has called for a meaningful and broad-based national dialogue.
The UN chief also urged Bahrain's regional neighbors and the international community to support a dialogue process and an environment conducive for credible reform in Bahrain.
Bahraini opposition groups, including the main bloc Wefaq National Islamic Society, denounced the move as an invasion of the kingdom.
The United States, which has its Fifth Fleet based there, has declined to term the troops' move into Bahrain as invasion.
A 12-hour curfew came into force at 4pm in areas of the city including the Pearl Roundabout, the Bahrain Financial Harbour, and several other buildings which have recently been targets of protests.
By then, most of the area had been cleared after troops backed by tanks and helicopters stormed the site -- the focal point of weeks-long anti-government protests in the tiny kingdom -- early on Wednesday, an Al Jazeera correspondent said.
Multiple explosions were heard and smoke was seen billowing over central Manama.
Hospital sources said three protesters had been killed and hundreds of others injured in the offensive, the Reuters news agency reported. Three policemen were also reported dead.
Al Jazeera’s correspondent said the police backed by the military attacked the protesters from all sides and used tear gas canisters to disperse the crowd.
Protesters, intimidated by the numbers of security forces, retreated from the roundabout, he said. By 5pm the area was quiet, although a few people remained on the streets. A helicopter circled overhead.
Bahrain's youth movement had called for a mass demonstration on Wednesday afternoon but it was unclear whether protesters planned to regroup elsewhere in the city.
Opposition Wefaq party has called off protests, saying it is too dangerous to continue. There are fears that a small gathering could result in a high level of casualties, our correspondent said.
Wefaq has advised people since this morning to avoid confrontation with security forces and to remain peaceful,” a Wefaq official told Reuters.
Ali Al Aswad, a Wafaq member, told Al Jazeera that the government used Apache helicopters to shoot at peaceful protesters.
He said the situation was very bad and Bahrain was heading towards a disaster. “The security forces are killing the people, we call upon UN to help us,” Aswad said.
The move by the security forces came a day after a state of emergency was declared on the island and at least two people were killed in clashes in the Shia suburb of Sitra outside Manama.
An order by the king “authorized the commander of Bahrain's defense forces to take all necessary measures to protect the safety of the country and its citizens,” a statement read out on television on Tuesday said.
Photo: A Bahraini woman reacts, as young men and men wait in the streets behind her for government forces they expect will role into their Shia Muslim village of Dumistan, Bahrain, southwest of the capital of Manama, Wednesday, March 16, 2011. (AP photo)