Bahrain chaos sends oil up

FOUR people have been killed in Bahrain and 230 injured as the military took control of the kingdom’s capital, Manama, in a violent crackdown on widespread unrest.

The chaos sent the price of Brent crude oil to a 28-month high of $104 a barrel yesterday, while gold also rallied.

Following Egyptian protesters’ successful removal of President Hosni Mubarak, protesters in Bahrain are demanding that President Ali Abdullah Saleh, a US-supported Sunni, give up power in the Shia-majority state. They are venting fury over Sunni dominance of government positions and grinding poverty among the island’s Shia population.

While some Western observers said that the protests are a blow to those who argue that Islam and democracy are incompatible, others are concerned that the spread of disorder could help a power-grab by radical Islamists.

The sectarian nature of Bahrain’s unrest could strike a chord in Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter.