I can't believe this is happening in Salalah. Looks like our town has pulled a Sohar on us. Last night helicopters, army tanks, riot police and other security forces pulled in to Salalah around 8 p.m. The main highway and roads were blocked. The entire area surrounding the 'People's Square' was isolated by army tanks. Just after 8, all protesters were arrested and loaded onto buses and taken to the royal airforce base. The worst part of the whole ordeal was that all phones were dead (on purpose of course). The entire mobile network was down for two hours. No one knew what was going on. The town was full of people out on the streets trying to make sense of what was happening. The internet was down until just a few minutes ago, hence the late post. (thank you Muscat Mutterings for getting the message through)
After everyone was arrested, the Army continued to occupy the area. Hundreds of ,men walked (no point driving since traffic was backed up, so they abandoned their cars) to the People's Square to see what was happening. Gunfire was heard by no one was hurt last night. After midnight the locals pushed past the riot police and occupied the square once more.
This morning at 5 a.m some of the young men who were arrested last night were released from RAFO. However, many of them refused to leave until their friends were released. Around 11 am the army surrounded the remaining protesters in the square and circled in on them and finally arrested them all. They were taken to Arzat prison.
After Friday prayers today (no prayers held at square since hundreds of soldiers are there - and yes there are hundreds), protesters marched to the square entrance to demand release of their friends. Some threw rocks at the soldiers I believe, and (witnesses confirmed this), the released tear gas at them. There were more clashes in the afternoon and this evening more tear gas bombs were thrown at the protesters and bullets were fired into the air to frighten them. No success.
I'm glad the internet and phones are back up but as far as I'm concerned, the government should have warned people that there would be NO COMMUNICATON for two friggin hours on Thursday night. What if an emergency happened?? All that just to arrest a few protesters?! The entire PROVINCE of Dhofar was out of reach. Everywhere from Hasik to Rakhyut.
There are army tanks and riot police all over central Salalah. Police have blocked off Al Nahdha road. Locals are confused/furious/anxious/no knowing what to think. If you're an expat, stay away from central Salalah. Everywhere from RAFO (fountain) roundabout to the Grand mosque and the whole area surrounding the governor's office. The army are arresting anyone who looks suspicious.