U.S. objects to "excessive force" in Bahrain

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 21, 2011 11:15 AM
U.S. objects to "excessive force" in Bahrain

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States on Wednesday objected to what it called "excessive force and violence" used against protesters in Bahrain and said it had communicated its concerns directly to Bahrain's government.

"We object to excessive force and violence against demonstrators; we raised our concerns directly today to Bahrain," the State Department said in a message on Twitter.

"We continue to believe the solution is credible political reform, not security crackdowns that threaten to exacerbate the situation," the State Department said in additional Twitter messages, originally released in Arabic.

"Despite rumors to the contrary, we have been clear in public and private that the U.S. supports peaceful political process that meets aspirations of all Bahrainis."

Bahrain security forces launched a crackdown on anti-government protesters on Wednesday, imposing a curfew and clearing hundreds from a camp that had become the symbol of an uprising by the country's Shi'ite Muslim majority.

Hospital sources said three policemen and three protesters were killed in the assault, which marked a significant worsening of the political turmoil rocking the tiny Gulf kingdom, an important ally and home to the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet.

The United States has called for restraint by the kingdom's Sunni Muslim ruling family -- which this week called in security reinforcement from Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia -- and has sent U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Jeff Feltman to Bahrain to push for talks to resolve the crisis.

(Reporting by Andrew Quinn; editing by John Whitesides)