Six people died Wednesday in a fresh round of clashes in the Persian Gulf island nation of Bahrain. Soldiers and riot police used tanks and tear gas to clear protesters out of Pearl Square in the capital, Manama. Troops from Saudi Arabia and other parts of the United Arab Emirates are assisting the government’s efforts to quell the demonstrations.
The month-old unrest has worried neighboring governments who are concerned about similar discontent in their own countries and about the influence of Shiite Iran. The foreign forces now number approximately 1,000.
The opposition protesters are from the primarily Shiite population, demanding democratic reform and more access from the ruling Sunni monarchy. After the anti-government demonstrations flared in the wake of upheavals in Tunisia and Egypt, Bahrain’s Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa promised to hold a dialogue with the opposition and work on reforms, but the protests have continued to grow more intense.
The U.S. State Department has urged Americans to avoid travel to Bahrain, which is also home to the Navy’s 5th Fleet.