Bahrain Opposition Leaders Arrested

Mar 17, 2011, 08:55

In Bahrain Thursday, at least five opposition leaders were arrested after a violent crackdown on anti-government protests in Bahrain's capital of Manama, officials said.

At least three civilians and three police officers died in Wednesday's violence when heavily armed troops confronted protesters at Pearl Square, considered ground zero for demonstrators seeking reforms to the island monarchy's government, the BBC reported.

Matar Ibrahim, a former opposition lawmaker from Bahrain's Shiite majority who resigned to protest the crackdown, told the BBC his government was ignoring the message from the United States that it was heading down the wrong path to a resolution. The Obama administration has criticized the use of excessive force and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has called for dialogue. Bahrain is home to the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet.

"We refuse to enter a dialogue while there are guns pointed at our heads," Ibrahim told the BBC.

King Hamad Bin Isa al-Khalifa declared a three-month state of emergency Tuesday and 2,000 troops, mainly from Saudi Arabia, were deployed to help Bahraini forces. Troops, using tanks, machine gun-mounted vehicles and helicopters, Wednesday moved in to clear Pearl Square where protesters had encamped for weeks. Several Shiite villages outside of the capital also were isolated.

Troops also surrounded the main Salmaniya Hospital, preventing the arrival and departure of doctors and injured protesters. The BBC said reports indicate they remained inside the hospital and six medical personnel were beaten as they tried to leave.

The government said it had taken over the hospital because it had become a stronghold of the opposition.

Source: UPI