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BAHRAIN: Celebrations break out as protesters retake Pearl Square

February 19, 2011 |  7:28 am

  Lulu 3
Thousands of Bahraini protesters flooded back into Pearl Square in the capital of Manama on Saturday afternoon after the army appeared to withdraw from the area following two days of violent clashes that killed several people and injured dozens more.

Angry crowds headed toward the square chanted "Down, down Hamed!" referring to the king, and "Bring down the government!" according to the Los Angeles Times.

CNN's Nic Robertson described "scenes of jubilation" in Pearl Square, despite reports of initial attempts by police to disperse the protesters with tear gas.

"People in [Pearl Square] calling this a victory, laying flowers where men [were] shot dead last night," he tweeted around 4:30 p.m. local time.

On Thursday, at least three people were killed and dozens more were wounded when government forces violently ousted demonstrators camped out in the square, which has emerged as a stronghold of the protest movement since it erupted earlier this week over complaints of government abuse and corruption.

Protesters who tried to retake the square on Friday were fired on, allegedly by security forces, according to numerous media reports. Reports of fatalities have not been confirmed by the government.

Earlier, opposition figures had said they would not meet with government officials until the army withdrew from the streets. For now such talks do not appear to have the popular support from the protesters.

--Meris Lutz in Beirut

 Photo: Thousands of jubilant protesters returned to Pearl Square after deadly clashes. Credit: Maryam al Khawaja via Twitter

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