(Note: Scroll down to see updates on the news from Bahrain.)
From a hospital in Bahrain this morning, NPR's Peter Kenyon reports that "grief is turning to anger very rapidly" after a government crackdown on protesters overnight that left several people dead and some demonstrators now vowing that "we will never stop" until the regime that rules the nation is toppled.
And during his conversation with Morning Edition co-host Steve Inskeep, Peter said, "I've just seen one of the more gruesome sights in 10 years of covering the Middle East" — the body of a man who had the "top of his head ... literally blown off."
During the attack on protesters in Manama's Pearl Square, witnesses have told Peter, riot police used clubs and shot rubber bullets. There are also reports of tear gas and concussion grenades being used.
Many of the protesters were reportedly sleeping when police arrived. Mahmoud Mansouri, a protester, told reporters afterward that the officers surrounded the camp and then quickly moved in.
"We yelled, 'We are peaceful! Peaceful!' The women and children were attacked just like the rest of us," he said. "They moved in as soon as the media left us. They knew what they're doing."
Reuters says about 60 people are missing after the crackdown.
As Korva reported for us earlier, ABC News correspondent Miguel Marquez "was caught in the crowd, and beaten by men with billy clubs." He filed this report from the scene during the crackdown. You can hear him shouting "journalist! journalist! journalist!" as he's attacked:
Update at noon ET: Bahrain's finance minister, Sheikh Ahmed Bin Mohammed Al Khalifa, "defends his government's actions in an interview with the BBC, saying the security forced showed restraint."
Update at 11:40 a.m. ET. Demonstrators Are "In Shock":
Peter tells NPR's Newscast that "frankly, many of the demonstrators are still in shock. They couldn't believe that the government, which had been speaking only hours before of a peaceful solution to this problem, then would order in the riot police. ... It really has been a dramatic turnaround of the government's strategy."
And, Peter says, "the people I spoke with at the hospital ... said 'if they raise the bar, we'll raise the bar and now we want regime change. We don't just want political reform.' Some of that was probably in the heat of the moment, but clearly, the organizers of this protest have said that the will of the people will not be thwarted by this show of security force."
Update at 10:40 a.m. ET. We just received this photograph, taken by Peter. It shows Hassan Issa, son of the man who was was apparently shot in the head and killed, talking with reporters. "I was supposed to be the martyr, not him," the young man said:
Hassan Issa, in red, the son of one of the people killed today in Bahrain when police broke up a camp of protesters. He says his father, Issa Abdel Hassan was shot and killed by police as they tried to make their way to Pearl Square, which riot police were clearing with teargas, clubs and other weapons. The son said, "I was supposed to be the martyr, not him."
Hassan Issa, in red, the son of one of the people killed today in Bahrain when police broke up a camp of protesters. He says his father, Issa Abdel Hassan was shot and killed by police as they tried to make their way to Pearl Square, which riot police were clearing with teargas, clubs and other weapons. The son said, "I was supposed to be the martyr, not him." Peter Kenyon/NPR
Update at 10:25 a.m. ET. U.S. Expresses Concern:
"The State Department said Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called Bahrain's foreign minister on Thursday to register Washington's 'deep concern' about overnight developments." (From The Associated Press)
Update at 9:40 a.m. ET. 600 Wounded?
New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, who is also at the scene, writes on this Twitter page that:
"At hospital in #Bahrain. 600 brought here w/ injuries as of 8 am, more since. Beatings, shotgun pellets, rubber bullets."
Update at 9 a.m. ET. Peter also filed this report for NPR's Newscast, which includes more about the man who was reportedly shot in the head:
"The scene at the Salmaniya hospital was one of stunned disbelief that the government, which had just hours ago been talking about a peaceful solution to the protesters' demands, had ordered the police to clear the square.
"The son of Issa Abdel Hassan, a middle-aged driver, said his father was shot and killed by police at point-blank range as he tried to reach the square during the crackdown. Several paramedics were receiving treatment themselves. They said they'd been pulled from their ambulances and beaten.
"The Interior Ministry said the protests were illegal, and is warning people to stay off the streets. But demonstrators vowed to return."
From our original post:
Bahrain is, of course, just one of the latest places in the region or nearby where protesters are demanding reform or that their leaders step down, as demonstrators did earlier in Tunisia and Egypt. Elsewhere, as The Guardian reports:
— Up to 14 demonstrators have been killed in Libya.
— "Security forces have clashed with anti-government protesters in Yemen for a seventh consecutive day."
Also, the Guardian says, "hundreds of Iraqi demonstrators massed in the southern city of Basra to demand the removal of the local governor."