Latest developments in Arab world's unrest

AP News
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Posted: Jun 19, 2011 3:30 PM
Latest developments in Arab world's unrest

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SYRIA

Syrian troops combing through rebellious villages near the Turkish border set fire to homes and a bakery, cutting off a lifeline to thousands of uprooted people stranded in miserable open-air encampments. The military carries out mass arrests and throws up checkpoints in the village of Bdama and surrounding areas to block residents from fleeing across the frontier, as thousands of others have done. Turkey, whose leaders have denounced the Damascus regime's deadly crackdown on dissent, begin distributing food to those encamped on the Syrian side of the border.

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LIBYA

Libya's government says NATO warplanes struck a residential neighborhood in the capital and killed nine civilians, including two children, adding to its accusations that the alliance is striking nonmilitary targets. NATO acknowledges its planes hit targets in Tripoli in the early hours of Sunday and says it is investigating whether it was responsible for the alleged strike on a heavily damaged building. Whether the airstrikes are eventually confirmed or not, the allegations provide supporters of Moammar Gadhafi's regime a new rallying point against the international intervention in Libya's civil war. The foreign minister calls for a "global jihad" on the West in response.

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EGYPT

Calls are growing in Egypt for a delay of September's parliamentary elections to give parties formed in the aftermath of Hosni Mubarak's ouster more time to organize. The push, which now has the prime minister's backing, is aimed at keeping the well-organized Muslim Brotherhood from dominating the next legislature and exerting disproportionate Islamist influence over the drafting of a new constitution. The debate over the timing of the elections and the new constitution is a political novelty in a country where elections under the 29-year rule of Mubarak were routinely marred by widespread fraud and their results known before the first ballot was cast.

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YEMEN

Government artillery shelling of an area in southern Yemen kills 12 al-Qaida-linked militants and wounds three others. The shelling is concentrated on the Dufas area in Zinjibar, capital of Abyan province. Islamic militants are taking advantage of internal strife in Yemen to overrun parts of the country.

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TUNISIA

Tunisia's former autocratic leader, whose downfall triggered uprisings in the Arab world, has condemned his upcoming trial in absentia in Tunis as a "shameful masquerade." Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, in exile in Saudi Arabia, also says in a statement from his French lawyer that he didn't flee Tunisia but left to avoid "fratricidal and deadly confrontations." It was the first public statement from the 74-year-old Ben Ali in the five months since he left Tunisia after a monthlong uprising.

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MOROCCO

Pro-government demonstrators in Morocco attack democracy activists protesting constitutional reforms recently unveiled by the king. Hundreds of youths pledging their support to King Mohammed VI scatter the pro-reform demonstrations taking place in a lower-income neighborhood in Rabat, hunting protesters through the narrow streets. After pro-democracy protests swept Morocco in February, the monarch unveiled a series of constitutional reforms Friday. Activists complain they are insufficient and pledge to keep up their weekly demonstrations.

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BAHRAIN

Lawyers for three former editors of Bahrain's main opposition newspaper tell a court that the journalists were tricked into publishing false news about the Sunni monarchy's crackdown on Shiite-led protesters as part of a plot to undermine a key opposition voice. The trial of the former Al Wasat editors is part of a sweeping crackdown on the island nation's Shiite-led opposition, which has been protesting for greater rights and political freedoms in the Gulf island kingdom. The editors were forced to resign from Bahrain's most widely read newspaper after the government imposed emergency rule in March to quell dissent.