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Bahrain: Nicholas Kristof, An Eyewitness

This post is part of our special coverage of Bahrain Protests 2011.

Nicholas Kristof, the New York Times columnist, and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, is reporting the unfolding events taking place in Bahrain via his Twitter account. Kristof arrived Bahrain a couple of days ago when two protesters were reported dead, after thousands gathered in Pearl Square demanding democracy.

Nicholas Kristof, the New York Times columnist, and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner. Image by Flickr user caribbeanfreephoto.

Nicholas Kristof, the New York Times columnist, and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner. Image by Flickr user caribbeanfreephoto.

Kristof reported early last night (Wednesday 16 February, 2011) that the square was peaceful:

@nickkristof: People singing, chanting, dancing around Pearl Roundabout in #Bahrain well into the night. Trucks delivering donated food.

Then at around 3am Bahrain time on Thursday 17 February, as protesters were sleeping at Pearl Roundabout, police troops attacked them with guns, tear gas and excessive force, without any prior warning. The attack on the protesters came after King Hamad of Bahrain claimed he regretted the previous use of violence:

@nickkristof: King Hamad of #Bahrain claimed he regretted violence, then unleashed it on sleeping protesters. He disgraced himself.

It seems that King Hamad's choice of the timing of the attack and the barring of journalists from entering the Kingdom were meant to prevent witnesses to the brutality. In the morning, hospitals in Bahrain started receiving hundreds of injured protesters due to beatings, shotgun pellets, and rubber bullets. Kristof reported the situation in the hospitals:

@nickkristof: Nurse told me she saw handcuffed prisoner beaten by police, then executed with gun.

It did not stop at hospitals, as ambulances were targeted too:

@nickkristof: Abt 10 ambulance paramedics attacked by #Bahrain police. I interviewed them, saw their injuries.
@nickkristof: #Bahrain govt has ordered ambulances to stop going out, hospital says.

Apparently the Bahrain riot police reached out to foreign forces for help:

@nickkristof: 1 #Bahrain ambulance driver told me #Saudi army officer held gun to his head, said wld kill him if helped injured.

We still do not know the actual number of injured and dead protesters so far. People in Bahrain are suffering from a very slow Internet connection currently, and tweets and other updates are one of the only ways to get information from the country.

Update: Internet back up to speed  at 17:00 (AST) on Thursday 17 February, 2011.

This post is part of our special coverage of Bahrain Protests 2011.

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