DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Thousands of protesters poured into a main square in Bahrain’s capital Tuesday in an Egypt-style rebellion that sharply escalated pressure on authorities as the Arab push for change gripped the Gulf for the first time.
Security forces have battled demonstrators over two days, leading to the deaths of two protesters. In a clear sign of concern over the widening crisis, Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa made a rare national TV address, offering condolences for the deaths, pledging an investigation into the killings, and promising to push ahead with reforms, which include loosening state controls on the media and Internet.
As the crowds surged into Pearl Square in the capital of Manama, security forces appeared to hold back. The dramatic move Tuesday comes just hours after a second protester died in clashes with police in the strategic island kingdom, which is home to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet.