A look at political unrest in the Middle East

AP News
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Posted: Mar 08, 2011 4:42 PM
A look at political unrest in the Middle East

A look at anti-government protests, political unrest and key developments in the Middle East on Tuesday:

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LIBYA:

Forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi hammer rebels with rocket barrages and airstrikes, trying to check their advance out of the opposition-held east of Libya toward the capital Tripoli. At least 20 were wounded, some of them seriously.

On another front, government forces reportedly batter down resistance in the closest rebel-held city to Tripoli, Zawiya.

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EGYPT:

Clashes between Christians and Muslims escalate with thousands of people burning tires, smashing parked cars and cutting off a main road despite military moves to control a day of violent protests in Egypt's capital.

In a separate incident, a protest by hundreds of Egyptian women demanding an end to sexual harassment and equal rights turns violent when men verbally abuse and shove the demonstrators.

Also, an Egyptian court rejects an appeal by ousted President Hosni Mubarak and his family against a top prosecutor's move to seize funds that could total in the billions of dollars. The decision clears the way for a criminal investigation and a possible trial of Mubarak, who stepped down Feb. 11 after 18 days of massive protests.

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YEMEN:

The head of Sanaa University's student body says the Yemeni army has fired rubber bullets at tear gas at students who were protesting on campus. Ridwan al-Masoud says students were injured as the army moved in.

In another incident, thousands of inmates riot at a prison in Sanaa, taking a dozen guards hostage and joining the growing calls for the country's president to step down. Police say at least one prisoner is killed and 80 people are wounded. Yemen has been rocked by weeks of protests against the president the last several weeks.

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KUWAIT:

More than 1,000 protesters call for sweeping political changes in Kuwait as the surge for reforms around the Arab world moves into another Gulf state.

Security forces stand by as demonstrators move into an area outside a building holding key offices including those of Kuwait's emir and the prime minister, who is accused by pro-reform groups of stifling political freedoms and muzzling dissent.

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BAHRAIN:

A senior opposition leader says he would support demands to oust Bahrain's monarchy if that becomes the overwhelming sentiment of protesters whose chants have increasingly targeted the 200-year-old dynasty.

The statement by Hassan Mushaima appears to open the door for a more hard-line approach by key opposition factions that have not yet unified their stance on how deeply to press for reforms.

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OMAN:

More than 150 protesters rally outside Oman's state television headquarters in the capital Muscat to call for greater press freedoms.

The peaceful demonstration comes a day after Sultan Qaboos bin Said makes another concession to protesters' calls for more jobs and political openness by dissolving the office overseeing economic affairs.

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SYRIA:

Syria releases a leading lawyer and human rights activist who was imprisoned since 2009 for "spreading false information" after giving a television interview that criticized excessive government security and corruption.

Haitham al-Maleh, who is 80 and has diabetes and thyroid problems, was convicted in July and sentenced to three years in prison.