Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Bahrain authorities launch surprise attack on protesters

MANAMA, Bahrain — Hundreds of riot police officers surrounded the nation's symbolic center, Pearl Square, early this morning, raining tear gas and percussion grenades on thousands of demonstrators who had crowded into the square all day Wednesday to challenge the country's absolute monarchy.

The protesters, including women and children, had been camping out and the atmosphere had been festive only hours before. Main opposition group Al Wefaq said at least two people were killed.

Witnesses, some vomiting from the gas, said they had no warning the police were going to crack down on their peaceful protest before rows of police vehicles with blue flashing lights began to circle the area.

Shiite opposition leaders had spent Wednesday issuing assurances that they were not being influenced by Iran and were not interested in turning the monarchy into a religious theocracy.

But that did not stop what appeared to be government attempts to deter the demonstrators who had laid claim to the square. Hours before the police action, the Internet was jammed to a crawl and cell phone service was intermittent. Those efforts, however, only seemed to energize the roaring crowds, which spilled out of the square, tied up roads for as far as the eye could see and united in a celebration of empowerment unparalleled for Bahrain's Shiites, who make up about 70 percent of the country's 600,000 citizens.

Libya

Riot police clashed with protesters in Benghazi, the second-largest city, and with marchers setting fire to security headquarters and police stations in two others. Moammar Gadhafi's government sought to allay further unrest by proposing the doubling of government employees' salaries and releasing 110 suspected Islamic militants who oppose him. Activists using Facebook and Twitter have called for nationwide demonstrations today to demand the ouster of Gadhafi, the establishment of a constitution and comprehensive political and economic reforms.

Yemen

Embattled President Ali Abdullah Saleh flooded the capital, Sana, with security forces to try to stamp out demonstrations that began nearly a week ago. They turned deadly in the southern port of Aden, with two people killed in clashes with police. A call spread via Facebook and Twitter urged Yemenis to join a series of "One Million People" rallies on Friday.

Djibouti

Opposition parties in the Horn of Africa nation that hosts the only U.S. military base on the continent, plan to demand the resignation of President Ismail Guelleh in a protest scheduled for Friday. At least 1,000 people are expected to attend the "peaceful" demonstration that may continue through the weekend, Ismail Guedi Hared, president of the Union for a Democratic Alternative, said.

Egypt

Egyptians defied the second warning in three days from the ruling Armed Forces Supreme Council to halt all labor unrest. The caretaker government also gave its first estimate of the death toll in the 18-day democracy uprising. Health Minister Ahmed Sameh Farid said at least 365 civilians died according to a preliminary count that does not include police or prisoners.

Iraq

About 2,000 demonstrators attacked government offices in a southern province, ripping up pavement stones to hurl at a regional council headquarters in a protest over shoddy public services. The top medical official in Wasit province, Diaa al-Aboudi, said 55 people were injured — including three critically — in the city of Kut, 100 miles southeast of Baghdad. He said some were shot by police while others were hit by stones or suffered burns.

Information from the Associated Press and Bloomberg News was used in this report.

Bahrain authorities launch surprise attack on protesters 02/16/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 16, 2011 11:22pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Tampa court hearing rescheduled for accused neo-Nazi jihadist killer

    Criminal

    TAMPA — Attorneys for Devon Arthurs, the alleged former neo-Nazi turned jihadist accused of shooting to death his two roommates, have asked to reschedule a court hearing that had been set for Wednesday morning.

  2. Parent of struggling DeVry University is changing its name to Adtalem

    Corporate

    Associated Press

    DOWNERS GROVE, Ill. — The company that owns one of the nation's largest for-profit college chains is changing its name.

    This 2009 photo shows the entrance to the DeVry University in Miramar, Fla. DeVry Education Group, which owns DeVry University, announced Wednesday that it will now be called Adtalem Global Education. 
[Associated Press file photo]

  3. NATO rolls out the red carpet, buffs its image for Trump

    World

    BRUSSELS — NATO is not only rolling out the red carpet for U.S. President Donald Trump in Brussels Thursday, the military alliance — which Trump once declared obsolete — has been busy repackaging its image and is ready to unveil a new headquarters worth more than 1 billion euros.

    U.S. President Donald Trump and his wife Melania arrive at Fiumicino's Leonardo Da Vinci International airport, near Rome, Tuesday, May 23, 2017. Trump is in Italy for a two day visit, including a meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican, ahead of his participation in a NATO summit in Brussels on Thursday. [Associated Press]
  4. Taiwan becomes first in Asia to recognize same-sex marriage

    World

    TAIPEI, Taiwan — In a first for Asia, Taiwan's Constitutional Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage on Wednesday, punctuating a yearslong campaign by advocates for gay rights in one of the continent's most liberal democracies.

    Same-sex marriage supporters wave rainbow Taiwan flags after the Constitutional Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage outside the Legislative Yuan in Taipei, Taiwan, Wednesday, May 24, 2017. Taiwan's Constitutional Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage on Wednesday, making the island the first place in Asia to recognize gay unions. [Associated Press]
  5. 'Top Gun' sequel? Tom Cruise says it starts filming soon

    Blogs

    Tom Cruise is once again feeling the need for speed.

    Tom Cruise starred in "Top Gun" in 1986, and said he'll begin work on a sequel within the next year.