Latest developments in Mideast unrest

AP News
|
Posted: Aug 18, 2011 3:53 PM
Latest developments in Mideast unrest

___

ISRAEL

Heavily armed militants cross into southern Israel from the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula and kill seven people in attacks on a bus and vehicles. Israel blames Palestinians, saying they crossed into Sinai from Gaza and back into Israel near the resort of Eilat. Egypt denies that, but Israel is concerned about an upsurge in Islamist militant activity in Sinai in the aftermath of the popular revolution that overthrew longtime President Hosni Mubarak.

___

SYRIA

President Barack Obama, the leaders of Britain, France and Germany and the European Union join to demand that Syrian President Bashar Assad resign, saying his brutal suppression of his people had made him unfit to lead. The moves intensifies already mounting pressure on Assad, who refuses to ease his regime's ruthless crackdown on a five-month old opposition uprising and has backed away from promises of reform.

___

JORDAN

Jordan is "angered" and "extremely worried" by the killing of civilians in Syria, Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh tells The Associated Press, urging his northern neighbor to negotiate an end to the violence. Jordan is concerned that violence in Syria could spill over the border, undermining its security. Judeh's remarks in an AP interview come after a U.N. human rights team says government forces in Syria may have committed crimes against humanity by conducting summary executions, torturing prisoners and targeting children in their crackdown against the mostly unarmed protesters.

___

LIBYA

Five loud explosions shake the center of Libya's capital, possibly striking near Moammar Gadhafi's compound in Tripoli, as rebels in the western mountains claim control of the Zawiya oil refinery. The capture of the 120,000-barrel-per-day refinery in Zawiya is more a symbolic coup for the rebels, without having a major impact on Gadhafi's ability to secure fuel. The flow of crude to the refinery from fields in the southwest of Libya was largely halted in midsummer.

___

EGYPT

Egypt's ruling military council, widely criticized for subjecting protesters to military tribunals, drops charges against two activists who criticized its generals through social networking sites. The council says it excused both Asmaa Mahfouz and Louie Nagati because the two were "in a revolutionary condition which had an impact on their performance in public and political arenas."

___

LEBANON

The president of a U.N.-backed court seeking to prosecute the assassins of Lebanon's former prime minister Rafik Hariri urges Beirut authorities to step up efforts to arrest four men indicted for the 2005 suicide bombing. Italian Judge Antonio Cassese says Lebanon must do more to help the tribunal "in searching for, serving, arresting, detaining and transferring the accused." Lebanon's prosecutor general recently reported to the court that attempts to detain the four men, all members of the powerful Iran-backed Hezbollah militia, have so far been fruitless.

___

MOROCCO

A Moroccan court delays a terrorism trial over the bombing of a tourist cafe that killed 17 people. The court also increases the number of defendants on trial from seven to nine. After a brief hearing, the court delays the proceedings until Sept. 22. The April 28 explosion was one of the worst terrorist acts to hit the North African kingdom. It tore through the Argana cafe in Marrakech's old town, a popular tourist destination. Several of those killed were foreigners.

___

TUNISIA

Tunisia's prime minister says politicians must put aside differences to ensure the country's first free vote is a success. Tunisians go to the polls in October to elect an assembly that will write a new constitution following the popular revolt ousted longtime autocrat, President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. Tunisia's uprising led to protests in several Arab countries, and many are looking to Tunisia to see how it manages the transition.

___

ALGERIA

Al-Qaida's North African offshoot claims responsibility for a suicide car bombing at an Algerian police station that injured at least 29 people. Algeria's official APS news agency reported that a suicide bomber crashed a small truck into the police station, and that 15 officers and 14 civilians were injured. Algeria has seen a wave of scattered attacks in the past several weeks.