Protesters were forcibly removed from a landmark square in the capital of Bahrain Wednesday, one day after King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa declared a three month state of emergency.
Witnesses and state TV reported that at least six people were killed when police stormed the demonstrators' encampment in Pearl Square.
"They fired tear gas and then opened fire," said Hamid Zuher, a 32-year-old protester who slept at the square.
"We lifted our arms and started saying 'Peaceful, Peaceful,' he said. "Then we had to run away. There was so much tear gas and shooting."
Protesters have demanded political reforms and equal rights for majority Shiites. "Our will is stronger than bullets," the Arabic protest signs declared.
Thousands demonstrated in the capital outside the Saudi embassy, protesting the recent arrival 1,000 Saudi-led troops brought in to support Bahrain's 200-year-old monarchy.
While visiting Egypt, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for restraint on all sides in Bahrain.
"We are particularly concerned about increasing reports of provocative acts and sectarian violence by all groups," she said. "The use of force and violence from any source will only worsen the situation."
Bahrain is of strategic importance to the U.S. The kingdom currently hosts the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet.