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Army force

February 18, 2011

Army units have reportedly opened fire on protesters in Bahrain's capital Manama. Witnesses said there were several casualties. The protesters had gathered earlier to mark the deaths of three people killed on Thursday.

Protesters in Bahrain
Thousands gathered in Bahrain to mark the deaths of three protestersImage: dapd

Riot police were said to have fired tear gas and live bullets at protesters who had gathered on Manama's Pearl Square. Witnesses said at least 20 people were wounded. A former Shiite politician, whose party resigned from parliament on Thursday, said he saw army troops open fire on the demonstrators. "There are many casualties, some are critical," Jalal Firooz said.

Earlier thousands of people turned out across Bahrain to pay their respects at the funerals of three protesters killed in violent clashes with the police in the capital Manama on Thursday. More than 200 others were wounded and dozens detained as riot police dispersed protesters from central Pearl Square.

The country's leading Shiite cleric described the police attacks on protesters as a "massacre" and said the government had closed the door to dialogue.

Meanwhile, German President Christian Wulff has decided to cancel a planned trip to Bahrain in the wake of the violent crackdown on protests there. A spokesman quoted the president as saying "freedom of assembly and freedom of speech in Bahrain have to be fully guaranteed." He added that Wulff's other scheduled stops in Kuwait and Qatar were dependent on further developments in the region.

There were also reports of several people injured in clashes between pro-and anti-government supporters in Jordan, the first incidents of violence since protests began there. In Yemen four anti-regime protesters were killed and dozens injured in two separate attacks as security forces tried to disperse protesters in the cities of Aden and Taez.

'Victory March' in Egypt

Exactly one week after President Hosni Mubarak stepped down, more than one million people gathered for a "Victory March" on Cairo's Tahrir Square, the focal point of the unrest, to celebrate the end of Mubarak and to put pressure on Egypt's military rulers to speed up the reform process.

The traditional Friday prayers also commemorated those who died during the nationwide uprising. Authorities said at least 365 people were killed and over 5,000 others injured in the protests.

Addressing the crowd, Sheikh Youssef al-Qaradawi, an influential Muslim cleric, called on Arab leaders to listen to their people. "The world has changed, the world has progressed, and the Arab world has changed within," he said. He also urged Egypt's ruling Higher Military Council to heed the protesters demands and quickly form a new government, free of any association with Mubarak.

Author: Rob Mudge (Reuters, dpa, AFP)
Editor: Michael Knigge