Cairo/Manama/London, March 14 (DPA) A military source in the Gulf region confirmed Monday that foreign troops had been sent to Bahrain to help authorities restore order after violent clashes erupted between protesters and security forces over the weekend.
The military official, who wished to remain anonymous, told DPA that soldiers were sent to Bahrain from several countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).
The six-member regional bloc of the GCC consists of Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Oman.
Meanwhile in London the British Foreign Office said it had reports that the Saudi National Guard was poised to enter Bahrain, prompting it to warn all British tourists in Bahrain to remain indoors.
However, witnesses said no foreign troops had been seen in the capital Manama as of Monday.
According to the Bahrain News Agency, a number of parliamentarians called on Bahrain’s king Monday to impose martial law after clashes ignited Saturday and Sunday, leaving a number of people seriously injured in the unrest.
Seven protesters have been killed since demonstrations began in Bahrain Feb 14.
The parliamentary bloc asked for three months of martial law, which would include an army presence on the streets and a curfew.
There are growing fears in Bahrain that anti-government protests for constitutional reforms and greater rights has shifted into a sectarian conflict, with the country’s Shiite majority clashing with the ruling Sunni minority.
There are also concerns among neighbouring countries, such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, which both have small, but significant Shiite populations, that Shiite-led Iran is meddling in the affairs of Gulf countries.
GCC Secretary General Abdulrahman bin Hamad al-Atiya said the council rejected any foreign interference in the gulf region’s internal affairs, adding that attempts to sow discord among citizens represents a dangerous encroachment on security and stability.