Manama, Bahrain (Agencies): The demands of thousands of the funeral mourners intensified on Friday as they called for the end of Bahrain’s ruling Monarch. 

Meanwhile, after a deadly assault on pro-reform protesters that has brought army tanks into the streets of one of the most strategic Western allies in the Gulf burials began on Friday.

The cries against Bahrain's king and his inner circle reflect an escalation of the demands from a political uprising. The mood, however, appears to have turned toward defiance of the entire ruling system after the brutal attack on Thursday on a protest encampment in Bahrain's capital Manama, which left at least five dead and more than 230 injured.

"The regime has broken something inside of me ... All of these people gathered today have had something broken in them," said Ahmed Makki Abu Taki, whose 23-year-old brother Mahmoud was killed in the pre-dawn sweep through the protest camp in Manama's Pearl Square.

Outside a village mosque, thousands of mourners gathered to bury three men killed in the crackdown. The first body, covered in black velvet, was passed hand to hand toward
a grave as it was being dug.

Amid the Shiite funeral rites, many chanted for the removal of King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and the entire Sunni dynasty that has ruled for more than two centuries in Bahrain,
the first nation in the Gulf to feel the pressure for changes sweeping the Arab world.

Capital under close watch

The capital and other areas remained under the close watch of the military and police which includes various nationalities from around the region under a policy by Bahrain's ruling system to give citizenship and jobs to other Sunnis to try to offset the Shiites, who account for about 70 percent of the population.

Soldiers guarded the capital's main areas and placed roadblocks and barbs wire around Pearl Square and other potential gathering sites. Work crews were busy trying to
cover up the protest graffiti.

Public meetings banned

On Thursday, Bahrain's leaders banned public gatherings in an attempt to keep the protest movement from re-igniting. But the underlying tensions in Bahrain run even deeper than the rebellions for democracy that began two months ago in Tunisia and later swept away Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and is challenging old-guard regimes in Libya and Yemen.

In the government's first public comment on the crackdown, Foreign Minister Khalid Al Khalifa said on Thursday it was necessary because the demonstrators were "polarising the country" and pushing it to the "brink of the sectarian abyss."

Speaking to reporters after an emergency meeting with his Gulf counterparts in Manama to discuss the unrest, he called the violence "regrettable," said the deaths would be investigated and added that authorities chose to clear the square by force at 3 AM when the fewest number of people would be in the square "to minimise any possibility of casualties."

Many of the protesters were sleeping and said they received little warning of the assault.

US, Europe urge peace

The White House, in the meanwhile, has expressed "strong displeasure" about the rising tensions in Bahrain, which is home to the US Navy's 5th Fleet and the centerpiece of the
Pentagon's efforts to confront growing Iranian military ambitions in the region.

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Washington must expand efforts for political and reforms in places such as Bahrain. "There is an urgency to this," he told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Elsewhere, the European Union and Human Rights Watch urged Bahraini authorities to order security forces to stop attacks on peaceful protesters.

Open-wheel race cancelled

The Bahrain violence forced the cancellation of a lower-tier open-wheel race in Bahrain for Friday and Saturday, and leaves in doubt the March 13 season-opening Formula One race at the same track.