Bahraini Forces Withdraw From Square

In Bahrain today, up to 80 demonstrators in Manama’s Pearl Square were injured as police fired rubber bullets and tear gas earlier today.

Thousands of protesters singing and dancing protesters streamed back into the Square today, after tanks, troops and then riot police withdrew from the traffic circle.

It was not immediately clear if the tanks and other armored vehicles moved all the way back to military bases.

The crown prince, Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, charged by King Hamad to open a dialogue with protesters, called for a national day of mourning and appealed for calm.

He had earlier announced that all troops had been ordered off the streets, meeting one of the conditions for talks listed by an ex-lawmaker of the main Shi’ite opposition group Wefaq.

The royal family, which was quick to use force earlier this week against demonstrators in the landmark square that has been the heart of the anti-government demonstrations, appeared to back away from further confrontation following international pressure from the West, the Associate Press said.

The use of live ammunition against pro-democracy demonstrators triggered sharp criticism from President Obama, who called on authorities in Yemen, Bahrain and Libya to show restraint and “respect the rights of their people.” Obama later spoke to the Bahraini king Friday night and urged that “those responsible for the violence” be held accountable, the Washington Post reported.

The Crown Prince appealed for calm and political dialogue in a brief address on state TV.

“The sooner we return to calm, the sooner we can reach our goals,” Salman said. “Citizens of Bahrain, let’s work together with all political blocks to help return the security situation to normal so we can announce a day of mourning for those we’ve lost.”


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