Ahad, 20 Februari 2011

The Star Online: World Updates

The Star Online: World Updates

Yemen separatist leader arrested, protests draw fire

Posted: 20 Feb 2011 07:19 AM PST

ADEN/SANAA (Reuters) - The leader of Yemen's secessionist Southern Movement was arrested in Aden and shots were fired at a demonstration in Sanaa on Sunday as unrest hit the impoverished Arab country for a ninth consecutive day.

Thousands of people also staged sit-ins in the cities of Ibb and Taiz, demanding the departure of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who renewed his call for opposition parties to pursue a dialogue with the government.

Saleh, a U.S. ally battling a resurgent al Qaeda wing based in Yemen, has held power for 32 years in an Arabian Peninsula state that faces soaring unemployment, dwindling oil and water reserves, and chronic unrest in northern and southern provinces.

Hasan Baoum was arrested in the southern port city by an "armed military group" in a hospital where he was receiving treatment and was taken to an unknown location, his youngest son Fadi Hasan Baoum told Reuters.

Baoum was also arrested in November last year, accused of planning illegal demonstrations.

Security in Aden was stepped up on Sunday with tanks and armoured vehicles out on the city's main streets.

In the capital, as many as 50 government supporters tried to break up a demonstration outside Sanaa University by more than 1,000 protesters.

A Saleh supporter fired shots from an assault rifle but there were no reported casualties and the government supporters soon dispersed, while the protesters continued their demonstration chanting, "Leave, Ali!"

Both sides fired weapons on Saturday outside the university -- the first reported use of firearms by demonstrators. Several protesters were hurt in those clashes and five people including young girls were wounded in the southern town of Sheikh Othman, apparently by stray bullets.

Five soldiers were wounded on Saturday evening in Khormaksar and Sheikh Othman when protesters clashed with security forces, a local official and witnesses said on Sunday.


In the southern city of Ibb, around 1,000 protesters set up camp in Freedom Square waving banners which read "Leave" and "The people want the fall of the regime", witnesses said.

In Taiz, thousands continued a sit-in for the ninth straight day. Twelve Yemeni human rights organisations demanded the sacking and trials of security officials in Aden, Sanaa and Taiz because of their role in attacks against demonstrators, according to a statement seen by Reuters.

Saleh on Sunday renewed his call for opposition parties to continue their dialogue and blamed the last two days of protests, in which five people were killed, on "elements outside the system and the law".

"Dialogue is the best way. Not sabotage. Not blocking the roads," he told tribal, military and civil leaders in Sanaa.

On Saturday he blamed a "foreign agenda" and a "conspiracy against Yemen, its security and stability" for the string of protests against poverty, unemployment and corruption which have gained momentum since the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt.

Saleh is facing not only an al Qaeda branch that has launched attacks at home and abroad

Protests have flared across Yemen for the past month. Saleh also faces a separatist revolt in the south and is trying to maintain a shaky truce with Shi'ite Muslim rebels in the north.

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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Freed German reporters arrive home from Iran

Posted: 20 Feb 2011 07:19 AM PST

BERLIN (Reuters) - Two German journalists arrived home on Sunday after being freed from four months of detention in Iran for meeting the son of a woman sentenced to death by stoning, the Foreign Ministry said.

Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle flew to Tehran on Saturday -- the first visit of a German foreign minister to Iran since 2003 -- to pick up the reporters and meet Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi.

Marcus Hellwig and Jens Koch, who work for the German weekly newspaper Bild am Sonntag, were arrested after interviewing the son of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, whose death sentence for adultery was suspended this month after a global outcry.

Under Iran's Islamic law, adultery is punishable by stoning.

The two men arrived in Berlin on a plane with Westerwelle early on Sunday.

"Their big emotional strain is reflected in their physical state," said an official at the Foreign Ministry who declined to be named. "Emotionally shaken is just one way of putting it."

The reporters' detention since October put extra strain on relations between Berlin and Tehran at a time of tension over Iran's nuclear programme, which the West says is covertly aimed at developing an atomic bomb, something Tehran denies.

The Foreign Ministry source said Tehran had demanded that Springer Verlag -- publisher of Bild am Sonntag -- apologise and that a fine be paid before the two men were released.

A Revolutionary Court on Saturday sentenced them to 20 months in jail, but then commuted their sentences to $50,000 fines, the Iranian student news agency ISNA said.

Iran says the Germans entered Iran on tourist visas and were working as reporters illegally. Accredited journalists working for foreign media need official permission to travel outside Tehran.

(Reporting by Annika Breidthardt and Kerstin Schraff; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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