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Police Attack Sleeping Bahrain Protesters in Pearl Square

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(MANAMA, Bahrain) -- At least four people were killed and hundreds more wounded Wednesday after police swept in to disperse protesters camped out in Pearl Square in Manama, Bahrain's capital.  The police descended on the demonstrators -- many of whom were sleeping -- with rubber bullets, tear gas and billy clubs.

The protesters have occupied Pearl Square for three days demanding jobs, the release of political prisoners, and constitutional reforms with hopes to end the monarchy that has ruled the island nation for 200 years.

ABC News correspondent Miguel Marquez was among those beaten during the military crackdown at Pearl Square.  He is the latest Western journalist to be attacked while covering protests in the region.  While being hit with billy clubs, Marquez yelled, "Journalist, journalist!" trying to show that he was not a protester. 

He was on the phone to ABC News in New York when it happened.

"There was a canister that looked like -- No! No! No!," he said as the police moved in.

"Hey! I'm a journalist here! I'm going! I'm going! I'm going! I'm going! ... I'm hit," he said. "I just got beat rather badly by a gang of thugs. I'm now in a marketplace near our hotel where people are cowering in buildings." He paused. "I mean, these people are not screwing around. They're going to clear that square, tonight, ahead of any protest, on Friday. The government clearly does not want this to get any bigger."

After the attack by what he called "thug police," Marquez said he was not badly injured.

King Hamad Al Khalifa took the extraordinary step of going on television to call for an investigation into the deaths and ordered police to back off.

"The result," said Marquez, "thousands of protesters, who say they won't leave the square until they get what they want."

"On Friday there is a call for an even bigger demonstration. Organizers expect tens of thousands -- maybe more than 100,000 people to show up. At this point, this protest is only growing stronger."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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