Saturday, April 2, 2011

Four killed in Syria protests

Cairo/Sana'a/Dubai: Syrian security forces killed at least four people and wounded dozens when they opened fire on protesters on Friday while hundreds of thousands of Yemenis held what appeared to be the largest demonstrations in more than a month of protests and the Bahraini government detained several people in crackdowns across the nation.

Thousands of Syrians arched on Friday in the southern city of Daraa, which has become the epicentre of an extraordinary protest movement, as security forces deployed across the country, said witnesses.

Activists dubbed Friday a “Day of Martyrs” and called for mass demonstrations to honour more than 70 people killed during two weeks of protests.

President Bashar Assad dashed expectations he would announce sweeping reforms this week and instead blamed the popular fury that has gripped Syria on a foreign conspiracy.

Huge marches in Yemen

Hundreds of thousands of Yemenis packed a square in Sana'a and marched in villages and cities across the nation on Friday in what appeared to be the largest demonstrations in more than a month of demands the country's long-time ruler step down.

Many mosques in the capital shut down — a move unprecedented for Friday, the Muslim day of prayer.

President Ali Abdullah Saleh escalated his confrontation with the rapidly expanding uprising a week ago, taking on emergency powers that give him a freer hand to quell protests. He has been hit by a wave of defections by military commanders, ruling party members and others. The Sana'a crowd was supported by soldiers with anti-aircraft guns and rifles to prevent intrusions by the President's loyalists.

Arrests in Bahrain

Bahrain released a prominent blogger but detained several people, including a pro-opposition doctor, the latest in a series of arrests since the kingdom's crackdown on street protests, opposition sources said on Friday.

The tiny island's Sunni rulers have stepped up arrests of cyber activists and Shias, with more than 300 detained and dozens missing since the crackdown on pro-democracy protests earlier this month.

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