A crackdown that killed dozens failed to stop massive demonstrations against Yemen’s U.S.-backed president, as crowds of thousands clashed Saturday with security forces smashing their protest camps and even seized control of one southern city.
In the capital, the government had to bring out tank units and other military forces to protect key buildings as crowds swelled. Protesters also stood their ground in the southern city of Mualla, surging out of their destroyed encampment and encircling a police station.
More than a month of daily protests calling for political freedoms and an end to corruption have presented President Ali Abdullah Saleh with the most dire challenge to his 32 years of running Yemen, a deeply impoverished land of restive tribes and numerous conflicts on the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula.
Palestinian militants in Gaza fired more than 50 mortar shells into Israel on Saturday, the heaviest barrage in two years, Israeli officials said, raising the prospect of a new Mideast flareup.
Also Saturday, Hamas police beat reporters and news photographers covering a rally in Gaza City, drawing a stiff condemnation from the reporters’ association.
Israel invaded Gaza two years ago to put a stop to daily rocket barrages by Gaza militants, and Saturday’s exchange showed how the conflict could quickly spiral out of control. Gaza’s Hamas rulers are thought to be trying to avoid another Israeli invasion, after the last one caused widespread damage, killed more than 1,400 and left the territory under blockade, but Hamas claimed responsibility for some of the mortar rounds.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton warned Iran on Saturday to stop meddling in Bahrain and other Arab states in the Persian Gulf, but also called on the kingdom’s leaders not to use force against anti-government protesters.
Clinton said the United States “has an abiding commitment to Gulf security” and that “a top priority is working together with our partners on our shared concerns about Iranian behavior in the region.”
“We share the view that Iran’s activities in the Gulf, including its efforts to advance its agenda in neighboring countries, undermines peace and stability,” she told reporters after an international conference on the crisis in Libya.
The Senegalese government said it had arrested a number of people and foiled an attempted coup just hours before thousands of anti-government protesters took to the streets Saturday, but opposition leaders said the accusations were aimed at undercutting the demonstrations.
Senegal’s president of more than a decade said the protests showed the maturity of the West African country’s democracy. President Abdoulaye Wade also said he would be willing to meet with the opposition or even hold a televised debate.
The choice could not be more distinct — a brash musician versus a matronly former first lady. Yet it’s the name that isn’t on the ballot that could play a decisive role in Haiti’s presidential runoff today.
That name is Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the twice-ousted former president who made a triumphant return from exile two days before the election that will determine who leads Haiti as it struggles to emerge from a political crisis and cholera outbreak while launching a multibillion-dollar earthquake reconstruction effort.
With his arrival, the popular and polarizing Aristide immediately sparked feverish speculation over his motivations and intentions, even though his party was barred from the ballot.
Compiled from wire reports