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Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

Death Toll Mounts In Bahrain, Libya, Yemen. New Protests In Jordan And Algeria

Staff Reporters |
February 18, 2011 | 11:54 p.m. PST

 Al Jazeera
Al Jazeera
The death toll mounted as violent protests spread virally throughout the Arab world, rocking Bahrain, Libya, Yemen, and Jordan with new protests planned in Algeria for Saturday.

“Bahraini security forces fired on protesters near Pearl Square on Friday and a senior medical official said more than 60 people were treated in hospital, a day after police forcibly cleared a protest camp in the capital. Ali Ibrahim, deputy chief of medical staff at Salmaniya hospital, said 66 wounded had been admitted from the clash at Pearl Square in the capital,” reported the Kuwait-based Arab Times.

Libya, meanwhile, struggled to clam down on growing unrest while security forces battled protesters for control of at least mid-sized city.  Al Jazeera reports that some 70 people were killed in the most recent disorders:

Security forces in Libya have killed at least 70 pro-democracy protesters in the country's second-largest city  as demonstrations demanding the ouster of Col. Moammar Gaddafi, the long time ruler, increase across the country.

A doctor in Benghazi told Al Jazeera that he saw the bodies at the main hospital on Friday in one of the harshest crackdowns against peaceful protesters thus far.

"I have seen it on my own eyes: At least 70 bodies at the hospital," said Wuwufaq al-Zuwail, a physician. He added that security forces also prevented ambulances to reach the site of the protests on Friday.

The Libyan government has also blocked Al Jazeera TV signal in the country. And people have also reported that the network's website is inaccessible from there.

Marchers mourning dead protesters in Libya's second-largest city have reportedly come under fire from security forces, as protests in the oil-exporting North African nation entered their fifth day. Mohamed el-Berqawy, an engineer in Benghazi, told Al Jazeera that the city was the scene of a "massacre," and that four demonstrators had been killed on Friday.


The same news agency reports that escalating protests in Jordan have also turned violent: "At least eight people have been injured in clashes that broke out in Jordan’s capital between government supporters and opponents at a protest calling for more freedom and lower food prices."

"The protest was the seventh straight Friday that Jordanians took to the streets demanding constitutional reform and more say in decision-making."
Jordan's king enjoys absolute powers, ruling by decree: He can appoint and dismiss cabinet and parliament whenever at anytime."

Amani Ghoul, a teacher and member of the movement that organised the protests insisted the protests will continue until their demands are met.
"We want a complete overhaul of the political system, including the constitution, the parliament dissolved and new free and fair elections held," she said.

And at least six people have died in clashes in Yemen
as protests spread to the southern city of Aden.  The Al Jazeera report says:

"Protesters across the country are calling for president Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down after 32 years in power, in a movement that has now entered its eighth day in Yemen.

Tens of thousands of demonstrators turned out in the cities of Sanaa, Taiz and Aden for a "Friday of Fury', as it was termed by protest organisers.

In the capital, Sanaa, the crowd marched towards the presidential palace, chanting anti-government slogans, despite riot police attempting to stop them from doing so."

Protesters in Algeria are planning a major demonstration Saturday, just a week after 30,000 armed police and troops were called out into the streets to confront thousand of demonstrators.  Rising food prices led to five days of protests last month in which three protesters were killed.

“Attacks on the government have widened to include criticism from Abdelhamid Mehri, a senior former leader of the Algerian regime, who on Thursday called for sweeping political changes in the north African country in an open letter to Bouteflika.

Mehri, a former secretary general of the ruling National Liberation Front and government minister, accused the regime of being "incapable of solving the thorny problems of our country ... and even less so of preparing efficiently for the challenges of the future, which are even more arduous and serious," reports Al Jazeera.



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