Saudis, Other Gulf Nations Send Force To Bahrain The island's royal family requested the force from Saudi Arabia and neighboring Gulf states to help bring order after a monthlong protest, government officials said. Demonstrators at Manama's Pearl traffic circle were bracing for attack, building makeshift barricades to block city streets.
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Saudis, Other Gulf Nations Send Force To Bahrain

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Saudis, Other Gulf Nations Send Force To Bahrain

Saudis, Other Gulf Nations Send Force To Bahrain

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MICHELE NORRIS, host:

Troops from Saudi Arabia and neighboring Gulf states have entered Bahrain. They arrived at the request of the island's royal family. Local government officials say the troops are there to help bring order after a month of protest. Demonstrators in the capital, Manama, are bracing for attack in the traffic circle where they have been gathering.

NPR's Frank Langfitt has more from Bahrain.

FRANK LANGFITT: Sunday marked some of the worst fighting between pro-democracy protesters and police here. Demonstrators seized control of the capital's financial center and blocked the city's main road, King Faisal Highway.

(Soundbite of sirens)

LANGFITT: Police responded with rubber bullets and tear gas. Monam Al- Mayouf, a bank worker, was in the crowd.

Mr. MONAM AL-MAYOUF: We saw so many people that got tear-gassed, and they cannot breathe. So many doctor here, they treat them. So many people, they take them by their own car, and they ship them to the hospital.

LANGFITT: A middle-aged sales manager who gave his first name as Zuhair said young protesters are now so angry, they just rush at police.

ZUHAIR: That shows the frustration. We've reached a level that people are willing to die. And believe me, it's true. And I'm not saying willing to die as a suicide bomber or something like that, willing to die for their freedom, for their rights.

LANGFITT: Weeks of protests and violence seem to have hardened demonstrators' resolve. Most are Shiite Muslims. They're demanding a democratic political system and an end to what they say is systematic discrimination by the ruling Sunni minority.

Last night, Bahrain's royal family again offered talks with the opposition. Then this morning, an estimated 1,000 troops drove across the causeway from Saudi Arabia. The main opposition political parties called any intervention an act of war. Zuhair said protesters were furious.

ZUHAIR: They feel it's an intervention in our internal issues. The majority of Bahrainis, they are against any intervention from any country, even if they are friends, even if they are family. We are not in the middle of war.

LANGFITT: Bahraini officials say the foreign troops - witnesses say most appear to be Saudi - are only here to protect key sectors, such as oil, electricity and finance. But when rumors swirled they were headed to the traffic circle, thousands of protesters poured down the highway to confront them. Demonstrators barricaded streets with dumpsters, shopping carts and park benches.

Some protesters think the foreign troops are just here to intimidate. But others say that more violence, from Bahraini forces or foreign ones, feels inevitable. Adel Ashoor is a businessman and protestor.

Mr. ADEL ASHOOR: We are expecting to attack us again, okay? But people are increasing. Numbers are increasing every time they attack.

LANGFITT: Protesters say they want the government to go, and they're skeptical of calls for dialogue. Attacks by police last month left seven dead and damaged trust. Demonstrators say bringing in foreign troops hasn't helped.

Frank Langfitt, NPR News, Manama, Bahrain.

(Soundbite of music)

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

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