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Violence rages in Libya and Yemen, Bahraini opposition set for talks

Over 100 people have now died in Libya as intense violence continues to sweep across the country. Meanwhile, in Bahrain, the opposition is preparing for talks, following a security force withdrawal.

Moammar Gadhafi

Gadhafi is not a popular figure in the city of Benghazi

Fierce violence has been reported in Libya with claims that more than a dozen people were killed by police on Saturday.

Pro-Gadhafi counter demonstrators

The Libyan leader enjoys more support in the capital Tripoli

Arabic language news channel Al Jazeera reported that security forces had opened fire at a funeral killing at least 15 people in Libya's second city, Benghazi.

A doctor in Benghazi told the channel his hospital had received 15 bodies following the shootings and that many more were wounded. "All are very serious injuries, involving the head, the chest and the abdomen. They are bullet injuries from high-velocity rifles," the doctor said.

Over 100 people have died in the western part of the country during the past three days, according to the US-Based group Human Rights Watch. No formal figures have been announced, with Libyan authorities seizing control of the internet and foreign journalists not allowed into the country.

Reports of snipers firing

One Benghazi resident told the Reuters news agency that security force snipers were firing from a central command center at protesters, who are calling for veteran leader Moammar Gadhafi to stand down.

The source said that the protesters had taken over the city, with police stations and government offices being burnt down. Italy's Ansa news agency quoted an Italian witness in Benghazi claiming that the city was "completely out of control."

However, a security source contradicted this, claiming that the city was “80 percent” under control.

Unrest in Aden

The Yemeni port city of Aden has seen violence in recent days

The focus of the violence has been Benghazi, some 1,000 kilometers (625 miles) east of the capital, Tripoli. Libyan authorities claimed to have arrested dozens of members of a "network" of Arab nationals aiming to destabilize the country, according to the official Libyan news agency Jana late on Saturday.

Explosion of protest

Libya is among a series of Arab nations that have seen an explosion of protest in the wake of regimes being deposed by pro-democracy movements in Egypt and Tunisia.

In the Yemeni capital Sanaa on Saturday there were armed clashes between supporters and opponents of President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Five people had been reported killed the previous day in protests against the leader's 32-year rule.

Eight protesters were reported to have been injured in the violence, in which both sides were reported to have used firearms. The country's interior ministry denied a claim that one youth had been killed in the violence outside Sanaa University.

Hundreds had gathered outside the university in the morning calling for the downfall of Saleh's regime, marching towards the justice ministry.

'Foreign agenda' blamed

Saleh has blamed a "foreign agenda" and a "conspiracy against Yemen" for the protests against corruption, poverty and unemployment.

In the port city of Aden where resentment of the government runs high, thousands of protesters staged a peaceful protest holding banners saying "No to oppression. No to corruption."

A group of women protesters in Bahrain

Protesters moved back into Bahrain's main square

Four people were reported to have been killed by gunfire in the city on Friday while in Taez, south of Sanaa, a hand grenade attack on protesters killed one person and wounded 47.

Opposition put demands to crown prince

In Bahrain, it was expected that the opposition would put their demands to the Crown Prince Sheikh Salman on Sunday.

Anti-government protesters had reoccupied the capital Manama's Pearl Square after troops and armoured vehicles withdrew on official orders. The square had been taken on Thursday when riot police staged a night-time attack on protesters in which four people were killed.

Discontent is particularly strong among the island nation's 70 percent Shiite majority, which is ruled by a Sunni Muslim dynasty. Shiites say they are discriminated against and want a greater say in decision making.

Author: Richard Connor (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)
Editor: Mark Rossman

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