Manama (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The ruler of Bahrain has brandished an iron fist against pro-democracy activists. This morning, hundreds of riot police attacked the demonstrators who are occupying Pearl Square, the symbolic heart of the "jasmine revolution" in the small Gulf country, clearing the square. At least two people were killed in the attack with dozens wounded. Two policemen were killed, hit by speeding cars. The government has decided to close the stock exchange, schools and universities.
Police charged the crowd, firing tear gas, rubber bullets and pellets. The charge was supported by armoured vehicles and helicopters to monitor the situation. Yesterday, two people died in clashes in the Shiite village of Shitro, 15 km south of Manama. A protester hit by a bullet, and a policeman hit by a car. Police said that he was knocked down deliberately.
Hamad Ben Issa Al-Khalifa, the ruler of Bahrain, yesterday declared a state of national emergency for three months, reassured by the arrival of military forces from Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Bahrain is a majority Shiite country, ruled by a Sunni monarchy. The protesters remained camped out for a month in Pearl Square, calling for constitutional reforms and the removal of the prime minister, Sheikh Khalifah ibn Salman al-Khalifah, in power since 1971.
Police arrived in the early morning hours today, and after driving out the protesters burned the tents of the camp. The troops then broke into the commercial, to remove the illegal roadblocks and a few dozen protesters who remained in the area, after clashes on March 12 that left some 200 injured.