Two people were killed and nine others were wounded in clashes between Yemeni security forces and separatists in the south of the country on Saturday, medical and security sources said.
The clashes followed separatist demonstrations in Mukalla, Ghayl ba Wazir and Aden, capital of the former state of south Yemen which merged with the north in 1990. Six people were shot dead during protests on Thursday, Reuters reported.
One of those who died on Saturday was a 50-year-old civilian in Aden who was hit by a bullet, the sources said. The other was killed in Ghayl ba Wazir, a small town near Mukalla. The protests and clashes ended around noon.
The Islah party, one of the most powerful in Yemen, also said on Saturday that separatists had set fire to its headquarters in Mukalla, the capital of a former south Yemeni province.
The resurgent movement for a revived south Yemen state has aggravated political instability in the Arabian Peninsula country, where Washington fears political chaos is giving al Qaeda space to operate.
Yemen also faces an insurgency from militants linked to Al-Qaeda in some southern areas and a rebellion by the Shiite Muslim Houthi movement in the north.
North and south Yemen were unified in 1990 after the Communist-led southern government collapsed. Northern forces won a brief civil war four years later after the south tried to secede from the union.
The secessionist movement gained strength during mass, nationwide street protests against former president Ali Abdullah Saleh in 2011, which forced the veteran strongman from office a year ago.
On Thursday, security forces shot at dozens of secessionists in Aden as they staged a rally against Saleh’s successor, President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, a southerner who heads Saleh’s party. There were also armed clashes in another southern town, Al-Dalea.
Medical sources and witnesses said at least six people had been killed during the two clashes.
Southern Yemenis complain of discrimination by the government in the north. Tackling lawlessness in the country, which lies near oil shipment routes and flanks the world’s top oil exporter, Saudi Arabia, is a priority for both Western and Persian Gulf countries.
Bahraini Dies of Injures From Tear Gas Canister
A protester who was struck in the head by a tear gas canister fired by police in Bahrain last week has died, opposition officials said.
Mahmood Aljazeeri, 20, died in hospital on Friday, seven days after being injured, according to a statement released by the Al Wefaq society.
Aljazeeri is the third person to be killed during anti-government protests in Bahrain in the past week.
Violence flared during demonstrations marking two years of protests.
Another member of Aljazeeri’s family was shot and killed by police, and a police officer died after being attacked, during unrest on 14 February, the anniversary of the occupation of Pearl Roundabout in the capital Manama by pro-democracy activists.
Aljazeeri was wounded in his home village of Nabi Saleh.
His relative, Hussain Aljazeeri, 16, was killed after being struck in the abdomen with birdshot pellets fired at close range on the same day.
Police officer Mohammed Asif died after being hit by what was described as a projectile hurled at him by rioters.
Al Wefaq has released what it says is video footage of the incident involving Mahmood Aljazeeri. It shows him bending down to pick up an object to throw at a line of police approximately 12 meters (40ft) away.
He then collapses after being hit by a canister fired from the police line. Other demonstrators are seen rushing forward to carry him away.
Opposition activists have often stated that police in Bahrain use tear gas guns inappropriately, firing directly at protesters rather than arcing the canisters so as to avoid serious injuries.
Al Wefaq says that Aljazeeri is the fifth person to have died after being struck by a tear gas canister. More than a dozen have suffered serious eye and head injuries since the unrest began.
Regarding the death of Hussain Aljazeeri the Chief of Public Security Maj-Gen Tariq Hassan Al-Hassan issued a statement saying that police had come under attack from rioters “with rocks, steel rods and Molotov cocktails.
Warning shots were fired but failed to disperse the advancing crowd who continued their attack. Officers discharged birdshot to defend themselves”.
According to the general, it was at that point “at least one protester was injured” and subsequently died of his wounds at the country’s main hospital, the Salmaniya Medical Complex.
However a photograph released by Al Wefaq and seen by the BBC appears to cast doubt on that version.
In the photograph a man said to be Hussain Aljazeeri is seen just after being hit by the birdshot. Two or three other protesters are seen running towards him from an alleyway. The officer who shot him is seen at the corner of a building, firing at a distance of not more than 10 meters.
On 14 February 2011, peaceful protesters took over an iconic Bahraini monument, Pearl Roundabout. Three days later security forces cleared the site using tear gas, batons and birdshot.
At least two protesters died and hundreds were injured.
As violence escalated 35 people, including five police officers, were killed, hundreds more were hurt and thousands jailed in February and March 2011.
The vast majority were Shiite Muslims in a country ruled by a minority Sunni royal family.
Since then, more than 80 people have been killed, a figure which the government disputes.
Iraqi Governor Escapes Suicide Bombing
The governor of Iraq’s eastern province of Diyala on Saturday escaped unharmed a suicide car bomb attack on his house, which killed a guard and wounded seven people, a provincial police said.
The attack occurred in the early morning hours when a suicide bomber driving an explosive-laden car tried to cross a security checkpoint outside the house of the Sunni governor Omer Aziz Al-Hemiyari in the provincial capital city of Baquba, some 65 km northeast of Baghdad, the source said on condition of anonymity, Xinhua reported.
The guards on the checkpoint opened fire on the attacker who blew it up before reaching the governor’s house, killing a guard and wounding three others, the source said.
Four civilians, including a woman, were also wounded by the blast, which damaged the governor’s house and several nearby houses, the source added.
Diyala province, which stretches from the eastern edges of Baghdad to the Iranian border east of the country, has been a volatile area since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 despite repeated US and Iraqi military operations against the militant groups.
Violence is still common in the Iraqi cities despite the dramatic decrease since its peak in 2006 and 2007 when the country was engulfed in sectarian killings.
Egypt’s ElBaradei Calls For Election Boycott
Egyptian liberal opposition politician Mohamed ElBaradei called on Saturday for a boycott of parliamentary elections which start in April, saying he refused to take part in “an act of deception”.
President Mohamed Morsi called the elections on Thursday, aiming to conclude Egypt’s turbulent transition to democracy which began with the overthrow of autocrat Hosni Mubarak by popular protests.
But ElBaradei, a former UN nuclear agency chief, noted that he had called in 2010 for a similar boycott of polls held under Mubarak, who was ousted the following year.
“Today I repeat my call, (I) will not be part of an act of deception,” ElBaradei said on his Twitter account.
A leading member of Egypt’s most powerful Islamist party criticized opposition’s boycott calls.
The deputy head of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, Essam el-Erian, wrote on his Facebook page on Saturday that “running away from a popular test only means that some want to assume executive authority without a democratic mandate.”
Islamists have used well-organized campaign operations to win every election since the revolution, while the liberal and leftist opposition has been beset by division.
The Muslim Brotherhood, which backs Morsi, dismissed suggestions that the elections, to be held in four stages from April to June, would lack credibility.
Essam Erian, senior member of the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, said the polls would be carried out under “complete judicial supervision” as well as being followed by Egyptian, regional and international media.
Voting would also be monitored by Egyptian and foreign civil society and human rights organizations, he said on his Facebook page, adding that he expected wide participation.
ElBaradei’s call appeared to reflect confusion within the National Salvation Front (NSF), which groups a number of parties opposed to the Islamists - including his own.
Only on Friday NSF spokesman Khaled Dawood said the front would meet in the coming week to decide whether to participate. Previous opposition boycott threats have failed to materialize.
Another NSF leader, former foreign minister Amr Mussa, said many of the opposition coalition’s members were inclined to shun the four-round election, but a final position had yet to be agreed upon.
“There is a large group that wants a boycott, but it has not yet been discussed, and no decision has been taken,” he told AFP.
The election is scheduled to begin on April 27, with parliament to convene on July 6.
State television reported the presidency was considering changing the starting date of the vote because it falls on a Christian holiday, after objections from the Coptic Church.
Morsi will modify the dates of upcoming parliamentary elections after requests from Christian lawmakers to change them, the speaker of parliament’s upper house said on Saturday.
Members of the Coptic Christian minority had objected to the election dates Morsi announced on Thursday, as some voting would be held during their Easter celebrations.
Palestinians Clash With Israeli Forces
Palestinians demanding the release of hunger-striking prisoners clashed with Israelis in the West Bank and East Beit-ul-Moqaddas on Friday, as three fasting inmates were taken to hospitals.
Around 2,000 Palestinians marched in the northern West Bank city of Nablus, while protesting worshippers at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Israeli-annexed East Beit-ul-Moqaddas threw stones at police, a police spokesman said, AFP reported.
“Stun grenades were used to disperse the rioters and police are at the moment in complete control of the situation,” Micky Rosenfeld said of the Beit-ul-Moqaddas incident, adding that there were no reports of injuries on either side.
Hundreds of demonstrators, some waving Palestinian flags, also clashed with troops at the Jalameh military checkpoint, outside the northern West Bank city of Jenin, a journalist reported.
He said that protesters hurled stones at the soldiers who fired tear gas in response, but nobody was hurt.
An Israeli official, meanwhile, said that hunger strikers Tareq Qaadan, Jafar Ezzedine and Ayman Sharawrna were admitted to hospitals for protective check-ups.
“We moved them (to hospitals) because we want them examined to see if they are really alright,” said Israel Prisons Service spokeswoman Sivan Weizman, adding that she expected them to stay in hospitals until Saturday.
The three along with fourth hunger striker Samer Issawi, who on Thursday was given eight months in jail for violating the terms of his release from a previous sentence, have been fasting on and off for months to demand their freedoms.
Qaadan and Ezzedine, accused of participating in activities of Islamic Jihad group, have been imprisoned without trial since November.
Sharawrna, a Hamas activist involved in attacks on Israelis was, like Issawi freed in the 2011 swap for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit and later rearrested.
Israel Mulls Apologizing to Turkey
The Israeli regime is reportedly considering a partial apology to Turkey over the 2010 killing of nine Turkish activists on a flotilla aid headed to Gaza.