CNN Wire Staff
Manama, Bahrain (CNN) - Government forces fired Friday on protesters in Bahrain's capital, killing at least four of them, an ambulance worker told CNN. The violence was the latest in a series of confrontations in this Persian Gulf island nation that began Monday.
"I told everyone to put their hands up as a sign of peace," said one man who was covered in blood. "Then I saw the military crouch down."
Medical sources at a hospital said at least 50 people were treated Friday for injuries in Manama, and five of them were in critical condition, including one with a bullet wound to the head.
Friday's deaths brought to at least 10 the number of people killed since protesters took to the streets Monday in Bahrain, one of several countries in the Middle East and North Africa to face a surge of dissent following the revolts that toppled longtime autocrats in Tunisia and Egypt.
The casualties here occurred when security forces fired shots and tear gas at a few hundred anti-government protesters who were trying to make a push on Pearl Roundabout, the focal point of the demonstrations this week.
The area had been cleared Thursday in a harsh crackdown and security forces had then cordoned it off. But the violence resumed there Friday as security forces unleashed a massive and sustained barrage of tear-gas canisters and gunfire, witnesses said.
That was followed by "complete chaos" as demonstrators ran for cover, said CNN's Arwa Damon, in the capital.
Afterward, witnesses reported seeing bodies loaded into ambulances.
One man vowed to keep up his protest, whatever the cost. "There would be nothing more honorable than to be killed fighting for freedom for my country," he said.
Bahrain's special envoy to the United States, Abdul Latif Al Zayani, said that if Bahraini forces did fire live rounds, "Probably they were warning shots only."
But he acknowledged to CNN that the protesters were not using live ammunition.
Told that ambulance workers had confirmed the deaths of protesters by live rounds, he said those reports needed to be confirmed. "The reports are still coming in. ... We have great nation and we are a small country. We cannot divide. We have to unite. It's time that we get together. Investigations will happen. And they will continue."
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