Protests continue in Mideast, N Africa

14:09, February 20, 2011      

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Mass protests continued on Saturday in some countries in the Middle East and North Africa following those in Tunisia and Egypt.

Here are the latest developments of the unrest.

In Libya, protests broke out in several cities, particularly in the second largest city of Benghazi, where demonstrators called for political and economic reforms, which have left dozens dead over the past three days.

Twenty bodies of protesters were found in Benghazi and seven in the eastern city of Derna, the country's independent Oea newspaper reported on its website Friday.

The Libyan authorities have not reported on casualties.

The Dubai-based Al Arabia television channel reported Saturday quoting Arbor Networks, a U.S.-based network monitoring company, as saying that the internet service in Libya was suddenly cut off at about 2:00 a.m. (2300GMT) on Saturday.

In Bahrain, thousands of protesters returned to Manama's Pearl Square, the focal point of anti-regime demonstrations, after military vehicles withdrew from the square on Saturday, Al Arabiya TV reported.

Bahrain ordered its military to withdraw on Saturday in response to the opposition group's demands for starting a dialogue to solve the turmoil in the country after several protesters were killed and dozens of others injured in clashes between security forces and anti-government protesters.

In Yemen, the country's Defense Ministry denied on Saturday that an anti-regime protester was killed during clashes in the capital Sanaa on the same day, saying the protester is still receiving treatment after having sustained serious injury.

Earlier on Saturday, a police officer told Xinhua that Bassam Yaseen Abdu, a 21-year-old university student protesting in a rally against long-serving President Ali Abdullah Saleh, was shot dead and three others were seriously injured by gunshots outside Sanaa University, where about 1,000 anti-government protesters, mostly students, clashed with more than 300 government backers.

Kuwaiti police on Saturday used teargas to disperse hundreds of protestors in the western area of Sulaibiya, some 40 km from the capital Kuwait City, where stateless Arabs living in Kuwait, or Bedoon, took to the streets to demand for citizenship and basic social rights, a Xinhua photographer said.

In Algeria, police arrested on Saturday some anti-government demonstrators who tried to stage a rally in central Algiers.

About 450 protesters attempted to reach Concorde Square (former May 1 Square) in Algiers, but were blocked and dispersed by police, according to a Xinhua reporter near the scene. Thousands of policemen had been deployed along the roads leading to the square.

In Egypt, the Supreme Council of Armed Forces warned against more strikes or protests in the country after allowing a week of strikes and promising an orderly transition to civilian rule within six months.

The military council which has adopted a soft approach since it came into power after the toppling of Hosni Mubarak, said in a statement late Friday that the protests threatened national security.

"The strikes will be confronted and legal steps will be taken against them to protect the national security and citizens," said the statement read on state media.

Source: Xinhua
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