LIBYA, YEMEN, BAHRAIN: Protests continue to erupt across region


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Reports of clashes Tuesday night between protesters and police in eastern Libya were the latest spasm of unrest sweeping the Middle East and North Africa as leaders attempt to avoid the revolutionary fervor that brought down governments in Tunisia and Egypt.

The Libyan city of Benghazi was reportedly the site of clashes between protesters and police after the arrest of Fathi Terbil, spokesman and lawyer for the families of those killed in the so-called Abu Salim massacre. More than 1,000 prisoners are thought to have died in that incident in Libya’s Abu Salim prison in 1996.


The above footage was posted on YouTube by a user calling himself or herself ‘enoughgaddafi.’ It claims to show Tuesday’s protest, although that could not be verified. Conflicting reports also emerged as to whether Terbil had been released.

The protests in Libya coincide with ongoing unrest in Yemen and Bahrain following the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt that led to the ousting of longtime rulers.

[Updated at 8:35 a.m.: Fatthi Ben Eissa, a Libyan journalist, said the violence in Benghazi broke out after a rumor spread that a fire in the prison had killed hundreds of inmates, many of whom were expected to be released on Wednesday. He said Terbil was briefly detained and released.

‘They protested outside city hall, and clashes broke out with the revolutionary guard,’ Eissa said. ‘A number of activists who have been calling for mass anti-government protests on Feb. 17 took advantage of the incident. Whether what happened over the [prison rumor] has the potential to grow depends on what happens tomorrow. But other cities in Libya have so far been detached from protests.’]

In Yemen, the violence appeared to be escalating Wednesday as protests entered their sixth consecutive day, with Al Jazeera reporting that dozens of students demanding the ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh were ‘set upon’ by government supporters armed with clubs, stones and daggers just outside the University of Sana.

Reformist protesters in Bahrain, meanwhile, appear to be digging in their heels despite assurances from the interior minister that police officers suspected of involvement in the shooting deaths of two protesters have been detained.

On Wednesday, thousands of Bahrainis marched in the funeral procession of 31-year-old Fadhel Matrook. He was shot and killed while attending the funeral of another protester, Ali Abdulhadi Mushaima, who was shot on Monday amid widespread protests charging government abuse.

Several thousand have camped out in Manama’s Pearl Roundabout, according to news reports, demanding democratic reforms and the release of all political prisoners.

-- Meris Lutz in Beirut and Amro Hassan in Cairo

Video credit: YouTube