Manama/Tehran (Agencies): Bahrain's king has lauded the military for its crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Manama even as he emphasised that the government has spread the scope for "peaceful and legal freedom of expression".

King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa on Thursday discussed the raid as well as his government's ongoing plan with Commander-in-Chief Marshal Shaikh Khalifa bin Ahmed Al Khalifa and top-ranking defence officials, Iran's Press TV reported on Friday.

He later addressed troops and hailed them for their "bravery and readiness to assume their national duties".

In a statement issued from the military base, the king stated the government has widened the scope for peaceful and legal freedom of expression, the report said.

Within hours of the king's departure from the base, around 60 to 70 tanks and armoured personnel carriers entered Manama. At least seven demonstrators have died over the four days of clashes in the country.

Four people died early on Thursday when police cracked down on sleeping protesters in the Bahrain capital, an action that led to a minister reportedly quitting. By daybreak, tanks were seen rolling down the streets of the restive city swept by the winds of change that began in Tunisia and Egypt.

The protests started in Bahrain this week.

Meanwhile, parts of the Middle East and Arab North Africa could see fresh anti-government protests on Friday as demonstrators in Bahrain bury four people killed when police broke up an activist camp.

It was the worst violence in the Saudi-allied Gulf island kingdom in decades and a mark of the anxiety felt by Bahrain's Sunni al-Khalifa royal family, long aware of simmering discontent among the country's majority Shi'ites.

The sectarian aspect of the violence in Bahrain, home to the US Navy's Fifth Fleet, could fuel restlessness among the Shi'ite minority in neighbouring Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil exporter.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Washington supported "real, meaningful" change in Bahrain, which she called "a friend and ally", and urged the government to show restraint.