King of Bahrain declares state of emergency

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A state of emergency was declared in Bahrain on Tuesday by King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa as protests in the country escalated further, leaving at least two dead.

The declaration was announced on state television, and "authorized the commander of Bahrain's defense forces to take all necessary measures to protect the safety of the country and its citizens." The state of emergency will last for three months.

Further protests took place Tuesday in both the capitol of Manama and the nearby city of Sitra. Two people were reported to have died, one of whom was part of the Bahraini security force. These deaths come in addition to seven people killed since the protests began in February. Protesters have reportedly blocked all roads into the main financial center in the capitol, and number in the tens of thousands in Manama alone. Marches took place near the Saudi Arabian embassy, with protesters wearing masks as a defense against tear gas.

According to a doctor near the fighting, there are "many, many casualties ... People are coming in with bullet wounds and injuries caused by rubber bullets ... We received one major case—a man whose skull had been split open by something." One protester said that security personnel "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."

The declaration comes one day after other Middle Eastern countries sent troops into Bahrain at the request of the Bahraini government.