In this image from video riot police firing tear gas and wielding clubs storm Pearl Square occupied by anti-government protesters before dawn Thursday, Feb. 17, 2011 driving out demonstrators and destroying a makeshift encampment that had become the hub for demands to bring sweeping political changes to the kingdom. (AP Photo/Tony Mitchell, HO) (AP)

Bahrain's day of "regrettable" but necessary violence

Police beatings and surprise attacks Thursday left Manama protesters in the throes of escalating brutality


Amy Steinberg
February 18, 2011 11:45AM (UTC)

Egypt's precedent of non-violent protest has sparked waves of political action throughout the region, including in the tiny gulf country of Bahrain. But as we are quickly learning, Bahrain is not Egypt, and Bahraini riot police are obliterating hopes for peaceful resolution. Early Thursday morning police launched a pre-dawn assault in Pearl Square at the center of Bahrain's capitol, Manama, beating men and women in their sleep and launching tear gas attacks on startled anti-government protesters. Bahraini Foreign Minister remarked that the crackdown in Pearl Square was "regrettable," but nonetheless necessary in order to stamp out a revolution and regain control. There are currently five reported deaths and over 200 injuries.

This AP video shows footage of the pre-dawn attack, launched by Bahraini riot police on unsuspecting protesters in Pearl Square, Manama. 

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Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheik Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa speaks during a press conference in Manama, Bahrain on Thursday, February 17, 2011. He admits the violence was “regrettable” but necessary to quell a revolution. (AP/Hassan Ammar)

Bahraini anti-government demonstrators take an injured protester to a hospital in Manama, the capital of Bahrain.  (AP/Hassan Ammar)

A Bahraini anti-government demonstrator lies injured on a stretcher as Bahraini anti-government demonstrators take him to hospital in Manama. (AP/Hassan Ammar)

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Bahraini riot police seen near the Pearl roundabout during clashes with anti-government protesters. (AP/Hassan Ammar)

Bahraini women wait for news from victims being treated in a hospital. (AP/Hasan Jamali)

Bahraini soldiers in tanks and armored vehicles stand ready Thursday, Feb. 17, 2011, near a main highway west of the capital of Manama, Bahrain. (AP/Hasan Jamali)

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The body of a person killed during clashes between demonstrators and police lies in the street in Manama. (AP)

Young Bahraini girls hold up peace signs.  (Flickr/Al Jazeera English)

Bahraini women join protesters in the streets.  (Flickr/Al Jazeera English)

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An injury sustained by discarded tear gas canisters, which were littered across the streets after police spread protester camps with tear gas.  (Flickr/Al Jazeera English)


Amy Steinberg

Amy Steinberg is an editorial fellow at Salon.

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