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Bahrain arrests doctors, nurses

Medical personnel to be tried after treating protesters

Protesters demanded the resignation of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh in Sanaa, Yemen. Protesters demanded the resignation of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh in Sanaa, Yemen. (Mohammed Huwais/AFP/Getty Images)
Associated Press / May 4, 2011

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MANAMA, Bahrain — Several doctors and nurses who treated injured antigovernment protesters during the months of unrest in Bahrain will be tried in a military court on charges of acting against the state, the justice minister said yesterday.

Khaled bin Ali Al Khalifa said the charges against 23 doctors and 24 nurses include participating in attempts to topple the island’s Sunni monarchy and taking part in illegal rallies.

The announcement is the latest in the Sunni rulers’ relentless pursuit of Shi’ite opposition supporters after weeks of street marches demanding greater freedoms, equal rights, and an elected government in Bahrain.

During the unrest, medical staff repeatedly said they were under professional duty to treat all and strongly rejected claims by authorities that helping antigovernment protesters was akin to supporting their cause.

Separately, two former Parliament members of the country’s main Shi’ite party Al Wefaq were arrested, according to a senior party leader, Abdul-Jalil Khalil.

Al Wefaq has been the leading political backer of Bahrain’s uprising, which was inspired by revolts in Tunisia and Egypt earlier this year.

Bahrain’s Sunni rulers declared martial law on March 15.

Yemen SANAA — Yemen’s president asked a key mediator from a powerful alliance of neighboring Gulf countries to indefinitely delay his visit, two of his associates said yesterday, in the latest blow to efforts to resolve the country’s crisis.

President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s move was a political slap to attempts by Yemen’s neighbors to resolve nearly three months of unrest in this impoverished Arab country.

The two senior officials said Saleh sent a formal letter to Abdullatif bin Rashid al-Zayani, general secretary of the Gulf Cooperation Council, requesting the delay.

The visit was pushed back “to an indefinite date,’’ according to one of his associates.

The letter was sent Monday, just as Zayani was expecting to meet with Saleh to ask him to resign as part of the GCC’s initiative to resolve the crisis, they said on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the press.

It was the second time Saleh spurned a meeting with Zayani, and suggests the Yemeni president hopes to buy time at the expense of good relations with the alliance of his oil-rich neighbors.

Syria BEIRUT — Facing international condemnation for its bloody crackdown on protesters, the Syrian regime is expanding an intimidation campaign to keep people off the streets, human rights activists say.

They report a sharp escalation in arbitrary arrests and unexplained disappearances — including people getting plucked from their homes and offices in the middle of the day. One prominent activist in an upscale Damascus neighborhood was reportedly bundled into a car after being beaten by security officers.

“Syrian cities have witnessed in the past few days an insane escalation by authorities who are arresting anyone with the potential to stage protests and demonstrations,’’ Ammar Qurabi, who heads the National Organization for Human Rights in Syria, said yesterday.

Switzerland WASHINGTON — Swiss authorities say that banks in their country have located almost $1 billion in assets of Libyan leader Moammar Khadafy and the former presidents of Egypt and Tunisia.

Financial regulators in Switzerland had identified in Swiss bank assets worth almost $416 million that may belong to the embattled Libyan leader or the government; $474 million that is linked to former president Hosni Mubarak of Egypt; and $69 million belonging to Tunisia’s fallen leader, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali.

The announcement was made Monday by Swiss President Micheline Calmy-Rey at a diplomatic meeting in the Tunisian capital Tunis and confirmed by a Swiss foreign ministry spokesman.

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