Bahrain police retreat, protesters retake square

Reuters, Saturday 19 Feb 2011

Bahraini riot police retreated from Pearl Square on Saturday as thousands of anti-government protesters streamed back into their former stronghold in Manama

Protesters wave as riot police cars leave the Pearl Square in Bahraini capital of Manama 19 February 2011. (Reuters)

Crowds had approached Pearl Square from different directions. They stood facing riot police for half an hour. All of a sudden police ran to their buses and retreated.

The protesters, cheering and waving flags, ran to the centre of the traffic circle, reoccupying it even before all the police had left. The crowd waved the fleeing policemen through. Police vehicles drove over pavements in their haste to get out.

Protesters cheered and kissed the ground in joy and took pictures of about 60 police vehicles leaving the area. One man fell to his hands and knees in tears.

Troops in tanks and armoured vehicles earlier withdrew from the square, which they had taken over on Thursday after riot police attacked protesters who had camped out there, killing four people and wounding 231.

"We took this square in a peaceful manner. The Khalifa henchmen, they killed my friends here," said one protester, referring to Bahrain's Sunni Muslim ruling family.

Bahrain's crown prince announced that all troops had been ordered off the streets and that police would maintain order.

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