Bahrain calls for Gulf help after violent protests

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 21, 2011 10:26 AM

MANAMA (Reuters) - Bahrain has asked for help from neighboring Gulf Arab countries after protesters overwhelmed police and cut off roads, and an adviser to the royal court has said the forces were already on the strategic island kingdom.

"Forces from the Gulf Cooperation Council have arrived in Bahrain to maintain order and security," Nabeel al-Hamer, a former information minister and adviser to the royal court, said on his Twitter feed late on Sunday.

Gulf Daily News, a newspaper close to Bahrain's powerful prime minister, reported on Monday that forces from the GCC, a six-member regional bloc, would protect strategic facilities.

"GCC forces will arrive in Bahrain today to take part in maintaining law and order," said.

"Their mission will be limited to protecting vital facilities, such as oil, electricity and water installations, and financial and banking facilities."

The reports come after Bahraini police clashed on Sunday with mostly Shi'ite demonstrators in one of the most violent confrontations since troops killed seven protesters last month.

After trying to push back demonstrators for several hours, police backed away and youths built barricades across the highway to the main financial district of the Gulf banking hub.

Those barricades were still up on Monday morning, with activists checking cars at the entrance to the Pearl roundabout, focal point of weeks of protest. On the other side of the same highway, police set up a roadblock preventing any cars moving from the airport toward the financial harbor.

Police were out in force in some areas but there was no evidence of military troops, Bahraini or otherwise, in Manama.

(Reporting by Lin Noueihed; Editing by Crispian Balmer)