Bahrain protesters swarm square, police flee

(Reuters) – Anti-government protesters in Bahrain swarmed back into a symbolic square on Saturday, putting riot police to flight in a striking victory for their cause and confidently setting up camp for a protracted stay.

The government said it had opened a dialogue with opposition groups demanding reform as Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa sought to ease tensions triggered by a wave of anti-government unrest sweeping the Middle East.

Crowds had approached Pearl Square in Manama from different directions, creating a standoff with riot police who had moved in earlier to replace troops withdrawn on royal orders.

Suddenly police raced to their buses, which drove away mounting kerbs in their haste to escape.

Emboldened protesters, cheering and waving national flags, ran to the center of the traffic circle, retaking it even before all police had left. The crowd waved fleeing policemen through.

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