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Twitter used to report Bahrain violence, injuries as they happen

As Bahraini troops fired on protesters Friday, human rights activists and journalists alike turned to Twitter to report the violence as it was happening, and in some cases, call for help.

Among the tweets, one from a doctor saying "We have a lot of casualties in which their skull is just shatterd. Many bullet shots are to head," a message that was retweeted, or shared by the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (@BahrainRights).

On Al Jazeera's live blog, the publication said that "People are tweeting that blood is needed at Salmaniya hospital":

Please if you can announce .. Blood needed in Al Salmanya Hospital. BTV (Bahranian TV) won't announce it .. Please if you could.

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristoff's tweet was chilling:

Police attacking protesters here at hospital in #Bahrain. Tear gas inside. Panic.

And a bit later:

Lots of casualties. ER filling up. 1 a girl of abt 13, writhing on stretcher. 1 a man w terrible head wound.

And this, from Hadeel Al-Shalchi, AP correspondent in Bahrain:

Protesters were carrying flowers saying they wanted to deliver it to police. Were shot instead. Blood on street now

For those who want to follow Bahrain-related tweets, enter "#Bahrain" in Twitter's search box.

Twitter, which allows posts of up to 140 characters and can be accessed by phone or computer, has become a key real-time medium for sharing breaking news. The first significant use of Twitter for reports of political uprisings was in 2009, during protests in Iran in after the presidential election there.

But Friday's tweets while the violence was underway — such as this one from @maryamalkhawaja:  i hear shots of tear gas — took Twitter's role to an even more dramatic level, especially for anyone who thinks the site is just for sharing celebrity gossip or frivolities.

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