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Demonstrations erupt in Mideast

02-26-2011 11:53 BJT

CAIRO, Feb. 25 (Xinhua) -- Mass protests rocked some Middle East countries after the Friday prayers, with people's demands ranging from ousting rulers to pressuring for political changes and improvement of living conditions.

Demonstrators clashed with pro-government forces violently in Libya and Iraq, while protests in Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan and Yemen were largely peaceful, but with different goals.

LIBYA

Security forces belonging to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi started shooting at protesters in the capital Tripoli's suburbs, an eyewitness told Al-Arabiya TV.

"The shooting is in Tripoli suburbs, and they want to disperse protesters away from the main areas," eyewitness Saleh told Al- Arabiya by telephone.

Another witness, who gave his name as Ziyad, said there was heavy gunfire after the Friday prayers.

"We are armless people, while they are firing live ammunition," he said.

In the evening, Gaddafi appeared before a crowd of more than 1, 000 supporters in Tripoli and urged them to "defend the nation."

He said he "is one of the people. " "We can defeat any aggression if necessary and arm the people," said the embattled leader, in power for 42 years, in a brief speech.

IRAQ

Eleven people were killed and 139 others were wounded when crowds of protestors took to the streets across Iraq on Friday for massive demonstrations, demanding better public service, fighting corruption and unemployment.

Thousands of protestors forced to walk from different Baghdad neighborhoods to rally in al-Tahrir (Liberation) Square in central Baghdad as the security forces imposed traffic ban on all kinds of vehicles, motorcycles and bikes until further notice as part of security measures for fear of chaos during Friday's demonstrations.

The Iraqi security forces tightened security measures across the capital, particularly in Tahrir square, which located just across the Tigris River near the Green Zone that houses the Iraqi government's offices and the U.S. embassy.

Sporadic clashes occurred between the demonstrators and the security forces resulted in the wounding of 15 people, most of them fell at the end of the day when Iraqi riot police used tear gas, water cannons and batons to disperse protesters from Tahrir Square and chasing them out.

One of the most fatal protests in the day was in Mosul city, the capital of Iraq's northern province of Nineveh, where up to five people were killed and 17 others wounded when hundreds of protestors stormed the provincial government building to demanded the resignation of the provincial governor Atheel al-Nujaifi and council members.

In Iraq's oil-rich province of Kirkuk, the highest fatalities occurred in the town of al-Hawija where two people were killed and 23 others were wounded when security forces opened fire to prevent protestors from approaching the town hall building.

The shooting provoked the protestors who attacked the town hall and set fire to the building and attacked the police headquarters of the town.

In southern Iraq, 51 policemen were wounded during a demonstration in the city of Basra, some 550 km south of Baghdad. Some of the wounded where hit when unknown person threw a hand- grenade among a crowd of policemen, while others wounded by stones of hundreds of protestors who were demanding resignation of Basra provincial governor, according to the state-run television of Iraqia.

Later in the day, Basra's governor Sheltagh Abboud submitted his resignation to the provincial council, the channel said.

BAHRAIN

Bahrain's Tahrir Square on Friday witnessed a mass demonstration called on by members of the Ulama Islamic Council to support protestors. The protest was held to pay tribute to the seven people who were killed during clashes with police and military in the civil unrest started with an online movement by a group of youth on Feb 14.

The Bahrain government declared Friday as an official day of mourning for the eight.

Hundreds of people marched on the streets waiving Bahrain flag as they shouted anti-government slogans and also those calling for unity between both the Shia and Sunni. Several doctors and nurses had their own march until the roundabout as they joined protestors at the center of the landmark.

EGYPT

Thousands of people rallied in Cairo's Tahrir Square to celebrate Egyptian youth victory and keep up pressure on Egypt's military rulers to carry out reforms.

They asked the Supreme Council of Egyptian Military, who is in charge of running the country after former President Hosni Mubarak stepped down on Feb.11 to confiscate Mubarak and his family's money and return it to the state treasury as it was taken from people.

While other groups gathered to celebrate the youth's victory by their own ways. About 25 people sat on the left side of the square watching a traditional music live show performed by a twenties young man.

The young man carrying a traditional Arab lute called "oud" played several folk songs, and some young man stood behind him to sing chorally.

In Alexandria, thousands of people stood in front of Leader Ibrahim mosque after prayer chanting "Egypt up all," according to MENA news agency.

They demanded the authority to release political prisoners, judge the former officials connecting with corruption, resign the government and disband the National Democratic Party.

YEMEN

More than 100,000 anti-regime protesters attended rallies across the country, including the capital Sanaa and major cities of Aden, Taiz, Mukalla, Al-Hodayda and Ibb, leaving at least nine injured and at least 12 arrested.

Meanwhile, pro-Saleh rallies were launched in downtown Sanaa and the southern provinces of Ibb and Taiz, with tens of thousands of people taking part in.

Around 1,000 policemen were deployed to keep order and separate the protesters from the pro-government rallies, which were participated by about 40,000 people, including plainclothes policemen, tribesmen and workers, a Xinhua reporter witnessed.

In the southern city port of Aden, tensions soared on Friday after security agencies arrested at least 12 anti-government protesters in Al-Saada neighborhood in Khour Maksar district, according to a provincial police officer.

An eyewitness told Xinhua that nine protesters were injured by the gunshots from the police.

The embattled president Saleh cautiously made a series of concessions to the opposition to stave off the unrest.

He ordered Prime Minister Ali Mohammed Mujawar late Thursday to form a ministerial committee to negotiate with the protesters face to face and meet their demands. Earlier this month, Saleh pledged to step down after his current term expires in 2013 and promised not to hand power to his son.

JORDAN

Over 10,000 Jordanians took to the streets for a "Day of Anger" on Friday, demanding political and socioeconomic reforms and the dissolution of the Lower House.

"We want reforms, we want elected government, we want corruption erased, we do not want the current lower house and we want more freedom," chanted the demonstrators as they marched through downtown Amman after the Friday prayers, Xinhua reporter witnessed.

The demonstrators also called for abolishing the peace treaty Jordan and Israel signed in 1994, and releasing Jordanian prisoner Ahmad Daqamseh, who is serving a life sentence for killing seven Israelis.

No clashes were reported during the demonstration, where security forces were heavily deployed to protect the demonstrators. According to security bodies, about five "thieves and drunk people " were arrested during the demonstration.

Jordanians in the cities of Irbid, Karak and Maan also held demonstrations Friday demanding genuine reforms and serious combat against corruption.

Editor:Du Xiaodan |Source: Xinhua

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