Refugees flee from Syria to Lebanon
Gunmen attack two soldiers in south Yemen
BEIRUT — Gunfire and explosions echoed through a Syrian border town yesterday, as hundreds of frightened civilians poured into neighboring Lebanon to escape a harsh crackdown against antigovernment protests, witnesses and authorities said.
Among those fleeing were two boys, ages 5 and 6, who were wounded during protests, Lebanese security officials said.
They were among more than 5,000 Syrians who have fled to Lebanon in recent weeks as President Bashar Assad’s security forces try to crush the protests with gunfire, sieges, and even shelling.
Human rights groups say more than 800 people have been killed since mid-March.
“I want to die in Syria,’’ one man said yesterday after he dropped his family off in Lebanon and then headed back.
Several ambulances were parked on the Lebanese side of the border to take wounded Syrians to hospitals.
Gunfire and explosions were heard through the day from Talkalakh, just inside Syria, witnesses said by telephone from the area.
A military official said gunfire that came from the Syrian side of the border wounded a Lebanese soldier.
Foreign reporters have been banned from Syria, making it impossible to confirm witness accounts independently. Witnesses spoke on condition of anonymity out of fear for their safety.
YemenGunmen on a motorcycle opened fire on two soldiers in a market in southern Yemen yesterday, killing one and wounding the other as protests against the longtime president escalated.
Yemen’s opposition, meanwhile, said it is not ready to accept a new attempt to revive a regional initiative to defuse the crisis, if it means giving President Ali Abdullah Saleh more time in office.
Yemen is reeling from three months of protests demanding Saleh step down.
He has snubbed a proposal to resign in exchange for immunity from prosecution. Instead he has pressed a crackdown on protesters that has killed more than 150 people.
The gunmen who attacked the soldiers yesterday in a market in Abyan Province fled, the local official said.
EgyptChristian protesters disregarded a call by their faith’s top Egyptian leader to end a weeklong sit-in in front of a government building on the Nile, remaining in place yesterday, a day after a mob attacked them and their supporters, injuring 78.
The sit-in aimed to draw attention to the plight of Christians, who have been the target of several attacks by Muslim fundamentalists in the weeks since President Hosni Mubarak was forced from office.
The head of Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church, Pope Shenouda III, said in a statement that outsiders have infiltrated the sit-in of largely Christian demonstrators, making the situation even more explosive.
He warned that Egypt’s military rulers and interim civilian government were losing patience with the protesters.