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Saudi Arabian police block protests in capital

Associated Press / March 12, 2011

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RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Several hundred people protested in at least four locations in Shi’ite-dominated eastern Saudi Arabia yesterday, but hundreds of police in the country’s capital prevented rallies calling for democratic reforms.

Police blocked roads and set up random checkpoints in Riyadh, searching residents and vehicles around a central mosque as large numbers of people gathered for Friday prayers, after Saudi activists set up online groups calling for protests in the capital.

In the eastern city of Qatif and nearby areas where the country’s minority Shi’ites live, several hundred protesters shouted slogans calling for reforms and equality between Shi’ites and Sunnis.

Egypt Four top security officials were jailed on charges they had ordered police to shoot and kill protesters during the country’s 18-day uprising that ousted longtime leader Hosni Mubarak, the government said yesterday.

Rights activists welcomed the move as a step toward ending the culture of impunity in Egypt’s massive security forces. Officials put the number of protesters killed during the uprising at 365, but human rights activists and others have said the figure is much higher.

The four jailed officials are Cairo’s former security chief, the head of the State Security agency, and the heads of General Security and riot police.

Yemen Security forces opened fire yesterday on demonstrators trying to rip down photographs of the president, and at least six protesters were injured as the biggest rallies in a month of unrest rocked the country in a massive call for regime change.

Protesters ripped down and burned portraits of President Ali Abdullah Saleh outside the southern port city of Aden, witnesses said. Security forces hurled tear gas into crowds close to a football stadium and then opened fire, using machine guns mounted on vehicles, but apparently were mostly firing over the heads of demonstrators.

Thousands of women demonstrated in Yemen’s capital, Sana, a startling move in a society where women are expected to stay out of sight.

Tunisia Clashes between police and demonstrators in a mining town in central Tunisia killed two people and injured 20 yesterday, a new outburst of violence in a country struggling for stability after a revolution that inspired the wave of unrest sweeping the Arab world.

The protest came as a member of the deposed president’s much-hated family was sentenced to prison yesterday, amid efforts by Tunisia’s interim authorities to distance themselves from the regime of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, forced from power in January.

Bahrain Security forces reinforced by progovernment mobs fired rubber bullets and tear gas yesterday to scatter protesters near Bahrain’s royal palace, as a conflict deepened between Sunni Muslims backing the ruling system and Shi’ites demanding it give up its monopoly on power.

The clashes broke out after an hours-long standoff between tens of thousands of demonstrators facing down lines of riot police and Sunni vigilantes carrying swords, clubs, metals pipes, and stones.

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