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In a sign of Bahrain’s deep divisions, government loyalists filled Manama’s Grand Mosque to hear words of support for the monarchy and take part in a post-sermon march protected by security forces. Many arrived with Bahraini flags draped over the traditional white robes worn by Gulf men. Portraits of King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa were distributed.

“We must protect our country,” said Adnan al-Qattan, the cleric leading prayers. “We are living in dangerous times.”

He denounced attempts to “open the doors to evil and foreign influences” — an apparent reference to suspicions that Shiite powerhouse Iran could take advantages of any gains by Bahrain’s Shi’ites, who account for about 70 percent of the population.

The pro-government gathering had many nonnative Bahrainis, including South Asians and Sunni Arabs from around the region. Shiite have long complained of policies giving Sunnis citizenship and jobs, including posts in security forces, to offset the Shi'ite majority.

Outside a Shi'ite village mosque, several thousand mourners gathered to bury three of the men killed in the crackdown. The first body, covered in black velvet, was passed hand to hand toward a grave as it was being dug.

Amid the Shi'ite funeral rites, many chanted for the removal of the king and the entire Sunni dynasty that has ruled for more than two centuries in Bahrain — the first nation in the Gulf to feel the pressure for changes sweeping the Arab world.

“Our demands were peaceful and simple at first. We wanted the prime minister to step down,’ Mohamed Ali, a 40-year-old civil servant, said as he choked back tears. “Now the demands are harsher and have reached the pinnacle of the pyramid. We want the whole government to fall.”

In Manama, soldiers placed roadblocks and barbed wire around Pearl Square and other potential gathering sites. Work crews tried to cover up protest graffiti.

In another funeral in the Shi'ite village of Karzkan, opposition leaders urged protesters to keep up their fight but not to seek revenge.

“We know they have weapons and they are trying to drag us into violence,” said Sheik Ali Salman, the leader of the largest Shi’ite party, Al Wefaq, whose 18 lawmakers have resigned in protest from the 40-seat parliament.

On Thursday, Bahrain’s leaders banned public gatherings. But the underlying tensions in Bahrain run even deeper than the rebellions for democracy that began two months ago in Tunisia and later swept away Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and are challenging old-guard regimes in Libya and Yemen.

Foreign Minister Khalid Al Khalifa said the crackdown was necessary because the demonstrators were “polarizing the country” and pushing it to the “brink of the sectarian abyss.”

Speaking to reporters after an emergency meeting with his Gulf counterparts in Manama, he called the violence “regrettable,” said the deaths would be investigated and added that authorities chose to clear the square by force at 3 a.m. — when the fewest number of people would be in the square — “to minimize any possibility of casualties.”

Many protesters were sleeping and said they received little warning of the assault. More than 230 people were injured, some seriously.

In Geneva, Navi Pillay, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, said the response of some governments in the Middle East and Africa to the demands of their people was “illegal and excessively heavy-handed,” and she condemned the use of military-grade shotguns by security forces in Bahrain. The European Union and Human Rights Watch urged Bahrain to order security forces to stop attacks on peaceful protesters.

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