Bahraini security forces launched a vicious surprise attack on pro-democracy protesters camped out in a square in the capital in the early hours of this morning, the Los Angeles Times reports. Witnesses said most of the protesters, including women and children, were asleep when riot police stormed Pearl Square, firing tear gas and rubber bullets. At least five people were killed, some reportedly in their sleep, and at least 200 were wounded, the New York Times reports.
The square had begun resemble a smaller version of Cairo's Tahrir Square in recent days as protesters gathered to call for the country's Sunni Muslim minority to loosen its grip on power. "We were sleeping," one protester tells CNN. "There were guys, kids, schoolchildren, women, and suddenly they just attacked us with tear gas, stun bombs." One ABC reporter was attacked by security forces as he was on the phone to the network describing the scene. The military has since locked down the capital, deploying tanks, checkpoints, and patrols and announcing on state TV that gatherings are banned, the AP reports.