Troops crossed from Saudi Arabia into Bahrain on Monday to help quell unrest there, a move Bahraini opposition groups denounced as an “occupation,” while pro-government legislators called for the imposition of martial law.
An unnamed Saudi official told Agence-France Presse that military vehicles carrying more than 1,000 Saudi troops had crossed the bridge linking Saudi Arabia to the tiny island kingdom. His account was corroborated by witnesses in Bahrain, who said they saw more than 100 trucks crossing the bridge, but there was still no official confirmation from the Bahraini government.
The Associated Press reported that a Saudi security official said the troops came from a special unit of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, which includes Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, and that they were there to protect critical buildings and installation like oil facilities.
“We’re awaiting confirmation but do not have it,” a spokeswoman for the Bahraini government said by telephone.
Mohammad al-Maskati, president of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights, said several of his fellow activists had seen the troops arriving.
The opposition statement said it considered the arrival of any soldier or military vehicle “an overt occupation of the kingdom of Bahrain and a conspiracy against the unarmed people of Bahrain.”