Police Move In To Clear Protesters From Bahrain's Capital

Police in Bahrain's capital, Manama, abruptly changed tactics early Thursday and swooped in to clear anti-government protesters camped at the Pearl Roundabout, using tear gas to disperse the crowd.

The area had become a magnet for protesters angered by the killing of two demonstrators by security forces earlier this week. After largely leaving the protesters alone for the past two days, hundreds of white-helmeted police swarmed the roundabout about 3:30 a.m. Thursday (7:30 p.m. Wednesday ET).

Ebrahim Sharif, secretary-general of the opposition National Democratic Action Society, said he saw ambulances taking people to hospitals but that police were blocking people from going in that direction.

""The whole area here has been surrounded,"" he told CNN by telephone. ""There are probably 500 to 1,000 policemen.""

Dozens of large police vehicles lined a highway overlooking the roundabout and helicopters buzzed the area. Police were also taking up positions to create a perimeter as much as a mile around the roundabout.

On Wednesday, Bahrain's Interior Ministry said those involved in two deaths during the protests have been placed in custody.

""We express our regret over those who died or were injured in the latest incidents and extend our sincere condolences to their families and to the people of Bahrain,"" according to a statement on the ministry's website.