Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Bahrain declares martial law, violence flares

MANAMA (Reuters) – Bahrain's king declared martial law on Tuesday as his government struggled to quell an uprising by the island's Shi'ite Muslim majority that has drawn in troops from fellow Sunni-ruled neighbor Saudi Arabia.
The three-month state of emergency will hand wholesale power to Bahrain's security forces, which are dominated by the Sunni Muslim elite, stoking sectarian tensions in one of the Gulf's most politically volatile nations.
Disturbances shook the kingdom through the day. A hospital source said two men, one Bahraini and the other Bangladeshi, were killed in clashes in the Shi'ite area of Sitra and more than 200 people were wounded in various incidents.
State television said a Bahraini policeman was also killed, denying media reports that a Saudi soldier had been shot dead.
The United States, a close ally of both Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, said it was concerned about reports of growing sectarianism in the country, home to the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet. It dispatched Assistant Secretary of State Jeff Feltman to Bahrain to push for dialogue to resolve the crisis.
Speaking in Cairo, U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton said she had told her Saudi counterpart to promote talks to resolve the situation.
It was not clear if a curfew would be imposed or whether there would be any clampdown on media or public gatherings.
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