Saudi forces roll into Bahrain to restore order

Bahrain`s opposition termed the troop intervention as "foreign invasion".

Last Updated: Mar 14, 2011, 20:46 PM IST

Dubai/London: Saudi Arabian forces on Monday entered strife-torn Bahrain after two days of clashes between
police and protesters mounted the most serious challenge to
the Island`s royal family.

"More than 1,000 Saudi troops have entered Bahrain,"
BBC reported, quoting a top Saudi official.

The report said the troops were part of Gulf Countries
Peninsula Shield Force. "The troops entered the strategic Gulf
Kingdom on Sunday," BBC said.

The Saudi official claimed that the regulations of the
Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) provide for such help and that
the forces would be under command of the nation`s government
they had entered.

The Bahrain`s opposition termed the troop intervention
as "foreign invasion" and vowed to resist what they described
as "occupying forces" as thousands of protesters for the
second day in running cut off Bahrain`s financial centre,
driving back repeated attempts by the police to eject them
from the capital Manama`s Central Square.

The rolling in of foreign forces, comes a day after
the tiny Gulf Kingdom -- home to the US 5th Fleet -- witnessed
its worst violence since seven anti-government protesters were
killed in clashes with security forces last month.

Earlier, the British newspaper `The Guardian` had
reported that the Bahrain Crown Prince had formally invited
security forces into his country as part of a request for
support from other members of the six-member Gulf Cooperation
Council.

Opposition parliamentarian Ali al-Aswad, who is
spearheading the agitation said, "The people will treat the
foreign forces as occupying forces. We won`t allow any foreign
intervention."

Gulf media reports also said that demonstrators and
government supporters had held competing protests at the
Bahrain University, which led to clashes.

The Saudi intervention came just a day after US
Defence Secretary Robert Gates visited the country and told
the royal family that they needed to enact substantial
economic and political change.

Opposition protesters are demanding far-reaching
democratic reform in the mainly Shiite country, which has been
ruled by Sunni Muslim dynasty for more than 200 years.
Shias form around 70 per cent of the Kingdom`s
population of 525,000.

PTI