The news from Bahrain is heartbreaking.
Early Wednesday morning (BH time) “security forces” launched a multi-pronged attack, destroying the encampment at the Pearl Roundabout where about 500 protesters were located — and attacking neighborhoods where protesters live.
Reports from multiple sources were consistent that live fire as well as tear gas was used, with numerous helicopters circling and many casualties. Ambulances were not allowed to reach Pearl and troops blocked access to the hospitals. Protesters took the wounded to mosques and called frantically to media and on twitter for aid.
In a nearby neighborhood, Angry Arabiya reported as events unfolded via twitter:
woke up hearing screams, ppl screaming. I can see army outside my window. some1 shouting out of mosque speakers that lulu has been attacked
I see ppl walking towards lulu crying, whole country is weeping. I hear shots. my brothers at lulu r prolly getting massacred! #bahrain
Ppl tellin me live bullets have been shot at them, not letting them leave our village 2 go 2 their brothers @ lulu #bahrain
An old woman standing on street cryin “if ull kill my sons kill me 2 Alkhalifa!” #bahrain #feb14
They’re shooting at us. #bahrain #feb14
Some1 yellin stop shooting atr women, don’t u have wives, go back to ur country #bahrain #feb14
One man in the front “we are brothers, don’t shoot us, we r sacrificing for u” #bahrain #feb14
The army couldnt shoot at us, we stood with flowers and told them we’re brothers.
They aimed their guns at us, we asked them “how cud u live with urself if u kill unarmed ppl” They cudnt shoot us.
then riot police attacked us, they dint even stop to hear us. They just attacked. #bahrain #feb14
The army retreated and the riot police attacked with live bullets, tear gas, and shot gun. #bahrain #feb14
my father has a birdshot gun sharpnel in his face #bahrain #feb14
@abisalem I ran becuz my father wudnt leave unless i left, he stood infront of me to protect me, I dint wanna see him die.
As the attacks in neighborhoods continued after the destruction of the Pearl encampment, messages like this were all too common:
@LiveBahrain: Reports of two women shot in Naim & urgently require ambulance opposite Huttain school (house number 1777) #bahrain”
@hhusaini Confirmed now! Army helicopters shooting now in zinj! Eye witness whilst I was on the phone with him! #bahrain
@Seba_SA Non stop gunshots from military choppers on villages around here right over our heads. Including sitra #Bahrain #SOS
and from CNN:
@iDeskCNN Bahrain security forces stormed the country’s main hospital, on Wedn and beat staffers, several doctors told CNN. #lulu
As I am writing this, the BBC World Service is broadcasting a call from Salmaniya Hospital saying the hospital has been attacked, there is black smoke everywhere as well as snipers outside and the medical staff are in hiding. They have not been allowed to take in patients or to leave the hospital. [more after the jump]
Avaaz.org has launched a campaign asking folks to call Sec. Clinton – pointing out that the weapons used are US made and sold under agreements that do not allow their use except for protection against external threats:
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has the power to influence the perpetrators of this violent and bloody crackdown. The Saudis’ use of US-supplied equipment is a violation of the US Arms Export Control Act. Let’s come together now and flood the State Department with calls for the US to help prevent further violence in Bahrain:
Here is the number for Secretary Clinton, press 1 to leave her an urgent message: +1 202-647-5291
On Tuesday, state security and armed thugs – many of whom carry Ministry of Interior IDs – attacked neighborhoods where protesters live. There were reports of police shooting at people from helicopters as well and horrific photos of the results are beginning to circulate via activists including video and photos showing one protester, 24 year old Ahmed Farhan, who died when his head was sliced apart by a direct shot from above. In this video, police appear to shoot a protester and leave him on the ground.
The King declared a state of emergency for the next three months and
“authorised the commander of Bahrain’s defence forces to take all necessary measures to protect the safety of the country and its citizens,”
which served as an announcement for what was to come.
The BBC reports on the events Tuesday afternoon:
A Bahraini doctor who was at the accident and emergency department at one hospital told the BBC that there were “many, many casualties”.
“People are coming in with bullet wounds and injuries caused by rubber bullets. There are hundreds of people,” he said. “We received one major case – a man whose skull had been split open by something.”
Two other men were in a serious condition after being shot in the eyes, while a third had been shot in the back of the head, the doctor said.
“We were at the health centre in Sitra, and they shot at us. The doctors and nurses were all scared because the windows were being broken and we could hear the shooting. This is a disaster,” he added.
He said police and soldiers – both Bahraini and foreign – had seized six ambulances, and then used them to attack protesters.
“The paramedics were kicked out, and they took the ambulances. They went everywhere in them and they were shooting people.”
The Bahraini Youth Society issued an urgent appeal to “international civil and human rights organizations to urgently intervene in order to prevent further human rights violations in Bahrain”
Al Jazeera English reported on the attacks earlier today:
A member of the BYSHR has confirmed the death of Ahmed Farhan- 24 years old- from Sitra Muhazza village after sustaining a shot to the head (type of shot unconfirmed as of yet) following intervention by special security forced in the village. There are reports of many injured and of the prevention of ambulances from reaching the injured. Many villages are under lock down and are being protected by locals after they were attached by armed thugs in the past couple of days. Witnesses have reported that some of the thugs were caught with ID’s stating they work in the Ministry of interior and some were said to be wearing the official riot police dress under their “thub” (Bahraini traditional gown).
Our correspondent … confirmed reports that at least two people were killed in the Shia suburb of Sitra outside of Manama in fighting there on Tuesday.
Abdullah Al Hubaaishi, a Bahraini who was making his way to the protest camp at Pearl Roundabout in Manama, told Al Jazeera that there were many wounded protesters on the streets in Sitra.
“Most of them have been shot,” he said. “Those people started attacking the villages and the towns. If there is anybody in the road they will shoot them. If there is nobody in the road they will enter the houses.”
It appears at the moment that the Saudis were being used to provide potential protection for public buildings and the King while Bahraini police and their plainclothes thugs are attacking Shia villages and any identified protesters.
And as in Libya and Iraq and Egypt, reporters are in significant danger for even reporting these events. Al Wasat, the only independent Bahraini paper, had their offices attacked and trashed yesterday:
A gang armed with clubs and butcher knives has attacked the printing press of Bahrain’s only opposition newspaper Al Wasat in the early hours of Tuesday morning in an effort to stop its publication.
Ahmed Mahdi, the head of Al Wasat printing press, said youths had been gathering outside the building and harassing employees for three days, forcing staff to seek a police escort into the building.
“Yesterday, it changed. The police escorted us as usual and then at 1am some thugs entered the building carrying knives and calling ‘where are they, where are they’,” he said.
“The Bahraini staff fled through the outside fire exit to the roof and they started attacking the touch screens and computers of the printing machine,” he said…
Mr Mahdi said youths were still at Al Wasat printing press. Staff were too scared to enter and the paper was eventually printed by another Bahraini newspaper.
“The paper will continue to come out whatever happens,” he said.