Bahraini protesters today told Amnesty International of bloody scenes on the streets as government security forces stepped up their violent crackdown on demonstrations and blocked access to hospitals.
At least six people were reportedly killed in the capital Manama amid continuing protests as the army used tanks to flatten the peaceful protest camps set up in recent weeks to demand reform in the Gulf state.
Government forces also surrounded hospitals and attacked doctors trying to help the wounded.
"The distressing reports and images coming out of Bahrain today provide further evidence that the authorities are using lethal and other excessive force to crush protests, with reckless disregard for human life," said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Director.
"Wounded protesters have also been prevented from accessing medical attention by government forces.. The Bahraini authorities must immediately put a stop to this bloodshed."
Security forces attacked the mainly Shi’a protest camp at Manama’s Pearl Roundabout camp early on Wednesday.
Family members of those wounded at the roundabout and people trying to approach the area told Amnesty International that the army opened fire on them without warning.
"I was walking towards the Pearl Roundabout… We were 5km from the roundabout when we were shot with live ammunition - one shot came one metre away from me. There were two tanks in the street and a helicopter above us," said Nabeel al Rajab,director of the banned Bahrain Centre for Human Rights.
Amnesty International also received testimonies from medical staff who were prevented from treating the victims of violence.
"We are waiting to do something and the army is not allowing us. We know there are hundreds injured and they are not allowing them to come here," said one doctor at the central Salmaniya hospital who did not wish to be named due to safety fears.
"A doctor went to the gate this morning trying to come in and the army beat him. They also threw tear gas and another type of gas at the emergency entrance of the hospital."
Another doctor said he was afraid of going to work because he heard of colleagues being attacked trying to reach the hospital.
"Hundreds of doctors and nurses are willing to provide services but they are stuck in their houses and do not know what to do, they are afraid of leaving their houses in case they are shot," the doctor told Amnesty International.
"The Salmaniya hospital is surrounded by the army. Injured people have instead been brought to small health centres that can't really provide optimal medical care and can't deal with these injuries."
In the nearby town of Sitra, a local resident told Amnesty International that she was afraid to go outside.
"We can't go out because the army is everywhere. They are throwing tear gas in the street. If anyone leaves their house, the army shoot at them," she said.