37 foreign workers killed in Algeria siege, prime minister says
Dozens of hostages died during a seige after terrorists attacked the remote gas complex near In Amenas, Algeria.
January 21st, 2013
02:02 PM ET

37 foreign workers killed in Algeria siege, prime minister says

[Updated at 2:02 p.m.] U.S. State Department confirms the deaths of three Americans in Algeria: Victor Lynn Lovelady, Gordon Lee Rowan and Frederick Buttaccio.

[Updated at 12:43 p.m.] Three Americans were killed in the hostage crisis at an Algerian gas plant last week, a senior administration official said Monday. Previously, one American was known to have been killed.

[Original post] Thirty-seven foreign hostages died in last week's terrorist attack on an Algerian gas plant, Prime Minister Abdul Malek Sallal said Monday. Algerian authorities had previously reported the death toll as 29.

Five foreign workers remain missing.

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January 18th, 2013
05:35 PM ET

Report: 12 hostages killed in Algeria rescue operation

  • A hostage situation at a gas plant deep in the Algerian desert enters its third day.
  • Confusion surrounds the fate of potentially dozens of foreign hostages held by Islamist militants.
  • It remains unclear how many hostages have been killed or injured, and how many are still held.
  • Below are the latest updates as we get them. Also, you can read our full story.

[Updated at 5:33 p.m. ET] Algerian forces are looking to negotiate the release of remaining foreign captives, Algerian state media reports, but are holding out the threat of further action.

"The special forces of the (Algerian army) are still seeking a peaceful settlement before neutralizing the terrorist group currently entrenched in the refinery, and free a group of hostages who are still detained," according to a report by Algerian state news agency APS.

[Updated at 3:58 p.m. ET] One Frenchman was killed and three others were saved in an operation to free hostages in Algeria, the press office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Paris says.

[Updated at 1:55 p.m. ET] Twelve hostages have been killed since Algerian Special Forces launched a ground operation on Thursday to free captives held by militants at a gas field complex, APS, the official Algerian news agency, reported, citing a security source.

[Updated at 1:19 p.m. ET] A U.S. State Department spokeswoman says the U.S. will not negotiate a prisoner exchange with terrorists holding captives in Algeria. It was unclear how many, if any, Americans were being held hostage.

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January 18th, 2013
03:30 PM ET

What we know - and don't - about Algeria hostage situation

Reporting on militants' seizure of workers at a natural-gas complex in eastern Algeria has been a special challenge, in part because outside journalists need a visa and accreditation before they can enter the country.

Access to live information from the Sahara Desert facility which British Prime Minister David Cameron this week noted was "one of the most remote places in the world" and about "18 hours by road from the capital, Algiers" is hard to come by, and conflicting accounts have emerged about the hostages and other aspects of the story.

Here is a look at what CNN has reported from:

WHAT OFFICIAL SOURCES SAY

Initial attack on Wednesday

The incident began when militants attacked workers who were traveling from In Amenas gas field to the In Amenas Airport early Wednesday, Algerian Interior Minister Diho Weld Qabilyeh told Algerian state television. Two people, an Algerian and a Briton, were killed in that attack, according to Algerian and British officials.

After security forces accompanying the workers returned fire, the militants went to the gas installation itself and took hostages, Qabilyeh told Algerian state television.

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January 17th, 2013
07:46 PM ET

British PM: Prepare for possible bad news in Algeria hostage crisis

  • Algerian military has freed four foreign hostages at a BP gas plant in Algeria, according to Algerian media; a fifth hostage also is free, Irish government says
  • Some American hostages also have been freed, but others are still unaccounted for, U.S. officials say
  • Reports: Hostage-takers claimed to be holding more than 40 people; Algerian Press Service says two hostages killed Wednesday

[Updated at 7:46 p.m. ET] Although an Algerian military raid against the hostage-takers wrapped up on Thursday, a senior U.S. official stresses that more military operations could be coming.

"There are still hostages, and there are still terrorists," the official said, according to CNN's Elise Labott. "So tomorrow is another day."

[Updated at 5:51 p.m. ET] British Prime Minister David Cameron has warned his compatriots to prepare for "bad news ahead" related to kidnapping of dozens of hostages at a BP gas plant in Algeria.

"It is a fluid situation, it is ongoing," Cameron told the Reuters news agency. "But I think we should be prepared for the possibility of further bad news, very difficult news, in this extremely difficult situation."

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Algeria hostage takers demand passage to Libya
January 17th, 2013
06:38 AM ET

Algeria hostage takers demand passage to Libya

Islamist militants who seized Westerners at an Algerian gas plant are demanding a safe passage to nearby Libya, authorities said, as fallout from the French offensive in Mali reverberates globally.

Media in the region reported that the attackers issued a news release demanding an end to "brutal aggression on our people in Mali" and cited "blatant intervention of the French crusader forces in Mali."

In the news release, the militants said they carried out the operation in Algeria because it allowed French forces to use its air space in attacking Islamist militants in Mali.

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January 16th, 2013
07:06 PM ET

Americans among hostages at Algerian gas field

[Updated at 7:06 p.m. ET] A claim by hostage-takers in Algeria that they are holding seven Americans is inaccurate, with the real number thought to be as few as three, two U.S. officials said Wednesday.

For more details read our full story here.

[Updated at 3:35 p.m. ET] Islamic militants have released Algerian hostages but not other hostages whom the militants had taken at an Algerian gas field near the Libyan border, Algerian State TV has reported.

Foreign hostages from Norway, Britain, the United States, France and Japan still reportedly were being held.

Meanwhile, Algerian authorities have received demands from the militants, but the government will not negotiate, the Algerian Interior Minister said in an interview with state television.

[Updated at 2:25 p.m. ET] Americans are among the hostages that Islamists have taken at an Algerian gas field, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Wednesday. She wouldn't say how many people were taken.

North African media outlets report that more than 40 Westerners have been taken hostage by Islamists who are angry over Algiers' support for a French offensive in Mali.

At least one foreigner died and others were kidnapped in the attack on the In Amenas field near the Libyan border in the east, Algeria's Interior Ministry. Algerian media later reported a second person, a British national, was killed as well.

[Updated at 11:54 a.m. ET] At least one foreigner died, six people were injured and an undetermined number of people taken hostage in a terrorist attack on a gas field in eastern Algeria, the interior ministry said Wednesday.

[Initial post at 11:24] A gas field in Algeria was attacked Wednesday morning by "unidentified armed people," who are now occupying the site, BP said.

British nationals are caught up in the incident, the British Foreign Office said. Ireland's foreign minister says there are reports that an Irish citizen also is involved. The office of the French president refused to comment on reports that French citizens also are involved. The In Amenas field is operated by a joint venture of Sonatrach (the Algerian national oil company), BP and Statoil, BP said.

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October 12th, 2011
01:38 PM ET

In latest video message, al Qaeda leader calls for Islamic law in Libya

In his latest video, al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri congratulated the Libyan people on their victory against dictator Moammar Gadhafi but warned them against Western manipulation as they forge ahead in building a new nation.

Osama bin Laden's successor said Libyans should move quickly to establish Sharia, or Islamic law.

"Be careful of the plots of the West and its agents as you are building your new state and do not allow them to trick you and steal your sacrifices and suffering," al-Zawahiri said in the video posted on Islamist websites. "And be sure to take the first, most important step for reform and apply Sharia.

"If the West talks about extremists and militants, they are talking about the honest and the free who defend their religion, sanctities, families and countries," he said.

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Gadhafi's wife, 3 of his kids cross into Algeria, foreign ministry says
Moammar Gadhafi's wide, Safia, pictured in 2003, arrived in Algeria on Monday with three of her children, Algeria says.
August 29th, 2011
01:26 PM ET

Gadhafi's wife, 3 of his kids cross into Algeria, foreign ministry says

The wife and three children of Moammar Gadhafi are in Algeria, that nation's Foreign Ministry said Monday.

His wife Safia, his daughter Aisha and two of his sons, Hannibal and Mohamed, came to Algeria via the Libyan border.

U.N. and National Transitional Council officials were informed of the development, the ministry said.

Aisha, a former U.N. goodwill ambassador who has kept a low profile during Libya's violent uprising, is due to give birth in early September, sources close to her family said.

Read CNN's full coverage of Gadhafi's family arriving in Algeria
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North Africa and Middle East unrest, country by country
Ten people, mostly journalists, were injured Thursday when police tried to stop clashes between pro-regime and anti-government protesters in Jordan.
July 15th, 2011
02:01 PM ET

North Africa and Middle East unrest, country by country

Countries in the Middle East and North Africa have been swept up in protests against longtime rulers since the January revolt that ousted Tunisian strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. In many cases, these demonstrations and movements have been met with brute force that has escalated into seemingly unending violence. Here are the latest developments and information about the roots of the unrest.

Jordan

Several hundred protesters marching through Amman on Friday were attacked by riot police, CNN's Arwa Damon said. A Jordanian security official said riot police were called in only after a group of loyalists clashed with the pro-reform protesters.

The protesters departed Al Hussein mosque on their way to Palm Tree Square, when they were surrounded by police along the way, Damon reported. Upon reaching the square, riot police charged the protesters, beating them with batons and using shields to push them back, she said.

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N. Africa, Mideast protests: 4 killed in fighting in al-Brega, Libya
Libyan rebels in the city of Ajdibaya get ready for a fight after a government jet flies over them Wednesday.
March 2nd, 2011
03:55 PM ET

N. Africa, Mideast protests: 4 killed in fighting in al-Brega, Libya

Across the Middle East and North Africa, CNN's reporters and iReporters are covering protests, many of them inspired by revolts in Tunisia and Egypt that toppled those countries' longtime rulers. Check out our interactive map explaining the roots of the unrest in each country and full coverage of the situation in Libya. Have a story to tell from the scene? Click here to send an iReport. CNN's Fareed Zakaria breaks down what the movements toward democracy mean.

Developments on unrest in the Middle East and North Africa:

[LIBYA, 3:55 p.m. ET, 10:55 p.m.]The USS Ponce and the USS Kearsarge have traversed the Suez Canal and entered the Mediterranean, a U.S. official said. The two ships have been sent with humanitarian relief equipment to aid in Libyan relief and evacuation efforts. The ships join the USS Stout, USS Barry and the USS Mount Whitney in the Mediterranean.

[LIBYA, 10:11 a.m. ET, 5:11 p.m.] At least four people have been killed and 23 have been wounded in the fighting Wednesday between pro-Gadhafi forces and the opposition in the town of al-Brega, a doctor who runs a hospital in the area told CNN.

[LIBYA, 9:37 a.m. ET,  4:37 p.m. local] The International Criminal Court prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, is opening an investigation into the situation in Libya, the court said in a statement Wednesday.

[LIBYA, 9:09 a.m. ET, 4:09 local] Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi abrubtly ended a 2-hour, 20-minute speech by saying, "The American president will leave office, the European leaders will leave their offices, and Gadhafi will still be a leader."

[LIBYA, 9:03 a.m. ET, 4:03 p.m. local] Two hours into his speech, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi mentioned President Obama.

"I think Obama is quite reasonable," he said. "He is not a yankee like Bush or Clinton, he's a reasonable person. He's capable to avoid another Iraq or Afghanistan. ... (However,) if they want to challenge us, we accept the challenge. Then we will distribute arms to 2 or 3 million and we won't care about killing them. We will defend the honor of all our innocent people. ... We will enter an honorable battle."

Gadhafi said if his country's rebellion cannot be resolved peacefully, "we'll see what can be done."

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N. Africa, Mideast protests: Yemeni president fires 5 governors
Moammar Gadhafi was warned by the head of the United Nations that "further action may well be necessary" against his regime.
March 1st, 2011
09:00 PM ET

N. Africa, Mideast protests: Yemeni president fires 5 governors

Across the Middle East and North Africa, CNN's reporters and iReporters are covering protests, many of them inspired by revolts in Tunisia and Egypt that toppled those countries' longtime rulers. Check out our interactive map explaining the roots of the unrest in each country and full coverage of the situation in Libya. Have a story to tell from the scene? Click here to send an iReport. CNN's Fareed Zakaria breaks down what the movements toward democracy mean.

Developments on unrest in the Middle East and North Africa:

[LIBYA, 10:00 p.m. ET, 5:00 a.m. local] The Canadian government has frozen $2.3B (CDN) in assets tied to the Libyan government, President Gadhafi and those associated with Gadhafi, a government spokeswoman said. The assets were frozen after Canada enacted sanctions over the weekend, Canadian Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Lynn Meahan said.

[LIBYA, 6:47 p.m. ET, 1:47 a.m. local] In Libya, the rivals for power appear to be heading a stalemate. CNN's Nic Robertson explains what's happening in the capital, Tripoli, why two cities in rebel control could be key to the country's future, and why neither side has the power to dislodge the other completely.

[LIBYA, 4:13 p.m. ET, 11:13 p.m. local] The U.N. General Assembly has adopted by consensus a resolution to oust Libya from its seat on the 47-member Human Rights Council.

[LIBYA, 3:53 p.m. ET, 10:53 p.m. local] U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Tuesday they have not seen independent confirmation corroborating reports that Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi has had Libya's military fire on Libyans from the air.

[WASHINGTON, 2:52 p.m. ET] U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Tuesday he has directed the Navy ships USS Kearsarge and USS Ponce to the Mediterranean as the United States positions ships in the region near Libya. The focus is on humanitarian assistance and evacuations, and there has been no authorization for use of force, he said.

[YEMEN, 12:01 p.m. ET, 8:01 p.m. local] Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh fired the governors of five of the nation's provinces, where anti-government protests have unfolded for several weeks. All five were appointed to other positions, according to a decree released Tuesday.

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N. Africa, Mideast protests: Diplomat says Libya long thought Gadhafi crazy
Libyans gather outside a Tripoli bank on Monday to collect promised payments of $300 each from the Gadhafi government.
February 28th, 2011
06:59 PM ET

N. Africa, Mideast protests: Diplomat says Libya long thought Gadhafi crazy

Across the Middle East and North Africa, CNN's reporters and iReporters are covering protests, many of them inspired by revolts in Tunisia and Egypt that toppled those countries' longtime rulers. Check out our story explaining the roots of the unrest in each country and full coverage of the situation in Libya. Have a story to tell from the scene? Click here to send an iReport. CNN's Fareed Zakaria breaks down what the movements toward democracy mean.

Developments on unrest in the Middle East and North Africa:

[LIBYA, 8:30 p.m. ET Monday, 3:30 a.m. local] After United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met with U.S. President Barack Obama on Monday about possible measures to take regarding Libya, Ban told reporters that "further action may well be necessary."

Gadhafi "has lost his legitimacy when he declared war on his people," Ban said of the Libyan leader. "This is again a totally unacceptable situation. I sincerely hope and urge him to listen to the peoples' call. That's my message to him."

American officials slapped sanctions on Libya on Friday, and the U.N. Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution on Libya on Saturday.

[LIBYA, 6:59 p.m. ET Monday, 1:59 a.m. local] The Libyan ambassador to the United States, Ali Suleiman Aujali, tells CNN that his countrymen have long regarded Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi as crazy, but that Libya has had no alternative to his rule until now.

Aujali's comment came after he reacted to Gadhafi's interview with ABC News and the BBC, in which Gadhafi said Libyans love him and want to protect him, and that the uprising that led him to lose control of Libya's second-largest city was completed by al Qaeda, not the Libyan people.

"I think this man lost touch with reality," Aujali told CNN's Wolf Blitzer on Monday evening, in reaction to Gadhafi's interview. "He doesn't want to realize there are thousands of people protesting against him. He doesn't want to realize that thousands of people have been killed by his soldiers, by citizens of other African countries."

Blitzer remarked that Aujali has said that he has worked as a diplomat for Gadhafi for 40 years, and asked Aujali whether he realized during those 40 years that Gadhafi was crazy.

"Well, I think we realize that he's crazy, but we have no alternative. We have no ways to get rid of him until now, when the people" responded to the Egyptian and Tunisian revolutions with a revolt of their own," Aujali said.

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N. Africa, Mideast unrest: Three killed as demonstrations turn deadly in Tunisia
A Libyan protester in Benghazi waves the country's old national flag, which was replaced in 1977, as demonstrations continued Saturday.
February 26th, 2011
09:13 PM ET

N. Africa, Mideast unrest: Three killed as demonstrations turn deadly in Tunisia

Across the Middle East and North Africa, CNN's reporters and iReporters are covering protests, many of them inspired by revolts in Tunisia and Egypt that toppled those countries' longtime rulers. Check out our story explaining the roots of the unrest in each country and full coverage of the situation in Libya. Have a story to tell from the scene? Click here to send an iReport.

Developments on unrest in the Middle East and North Africa:

SUNDAY

[OMAN, 9:00 a.m. ET, 6:10 a.m. local] At least two protesters were killed and about 10 injured during clashes between protesters and police in the Omani industrial town of Sohar, according to reports from state media and Oman TV editor Asma Rshid. "The police shot them because they burned shops and cars in Sohar," Rshid said. Another source said police fired rubber bullets. A number of police had also reportedly been injured, but CNN has not been able to confirm how many.

[LIBYA, 9 am ET, 4:15 p.m. local] Protests are picking up in Libya's western city of Zawiya with former security forces who said they have switched sides and joined the opposition.

The United Nations Security Council unanimously approved a draft resolution to impose sanctions against Libya amid escalating attacks on anti-government protesters in the north African country.

The resolution draft includes an arms embargo, asset freeze and a travel ban. It also refers Libya to the International Criminal Court.

SATURDAY

[TUNISIA, 9:12 p.m. ET, 3:12 a.m. local] Protests in Tunisia turned violent and deadly Saturday, just over six weeks after a popular uprising forced the president out of office, and lit a spark of desire for democratic reform in parts of Africa and the Middle East.

Three people were killed Saturday and nine others injured during mayhem in the capital, Tunis, according to a Interior Ministry statement cited by the state-run news agency, Tunis Afrique Presse (TAP).

More than 100 people were arrested, the ministry said, in the area around Habib Bourguiba Avenue, in the city's center, accused of "acts of destruction and burning."

[LIBYA, 4:58 p.m. ET, 11:58 p.m. local] City councils in areas no longer loyal to Moammar Gadhafi have chosen former Justice Minister Mustafa Abdul Jalil to head an interim government which will represent all of Libya, according to Amal Bogagies, a member of the February 17 Uprising coalition, and a separate Libyan opposition source.

[LIBYA, 4:40 p.m. ET, 11:40 p.m. local] President Barack Obama, in a statement issued Saturday after reports that forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi had fired on civilians, said "that when a leader's only means of staying in power is to use mass violence against his own people, he has lost the legitimacy to rule and needs to do what is right for his country by leaving now."

The White House statement was  issued after Obama spoke with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

[BAHRAIN, 9:37 a.m. ET, 5:37 p.m. local] Exiled opposition leader Hassan Mushaima has arrived back in Manama, Bahrain. Mushaima, leader of the Haq Movement, had told followers earlier in the week that he had been detained in Beirut, Lebanon.

[YEMEN, 2 a.m. ET, 10 a.m. local] Four people were killed and 26 wounded in clashes Friday night between anti-government protesters and security forces in southern Yemen, medical officials in Aden said Saturday.

[LIBYA, 2 a.m. ET, 9 a.m. local] A U.N. security panel is scheduled to meet Saturday to discuss new sanctions against Libya amid escalating attacks on anti-government protesters in the north African country. The resolution draft includes an arms embargo, asset freeze and a travel ban. It also refers Libya to the International Criminal Court.

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N. Africa, Mideast unrest: Hundreds flee Libya as Obama orders sanctions
A U.S. ferry carrying about 300 people, including 168 Americans, arrived Friday night in Malta from Libya.
February 25th, 2011
08:46 PM ET

N. Africa, Mideast unrest: Hundreds flee Libya as Obama orders sanctions

Across the Middle East and North Africa, CNN's reporters and iReporters are covering protests, many of them inspired by revolts in Tunisia and Egypt that toppled those countries' longtime rulers. Check out our story explaining the roots of the unrest in each country and full coverage of the situation in Libya. Have a story to tell from the scene? Click here to send an iReport.

Developments on unrest in the Middle East and North Africa:

[LIBYA, 8:46 p.m. ET, 3:46 a.m. local] U.S. President Barack Obama said Friday that sanctions against Libya will target the government while protecting the people.

"We will stand steadfastly with the Libyan people in their demand for universal rights and a government that is responsive to their aspirations," he said in a statement. "Their human dignity cannot be denied."

[MAURITANIA, 6:21 p.m. ET, 11:21 p.m. local] A rare demonstration took place Friday in the streets of Mauritania after hundreds of protesters gathered, calling for social and political change, a journalist says.

The call to action started last week on Facebook, which is said to be very popular in Mauritania, said the journalist. Young protesters were surrounded by police during several hours of peaceful demonstrations in the capital city of Nouakchott, according to reports.

[LIBYA, 4:02 p.m. ET, 11:02 p.m. local] Abdurrahman Mohamed Shalgham, Libya's ambassador to the United Nations, on Friday recommended targeted sanctions against Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, members of his family and his supporters responsible for killing civilians in the North African country.

"It's not a crime to say, I want to be free," Shalgham said, adding that the targeting of people expressing discontent with Gadhafi's rule "cannot continue."

[LIBYA, 3:41 p.m. ET, 10:41 p.m. local] Members of the U.N. Human Rights Council recommend setting up an inquiry into allegations of abuse and rights violations in Libya, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said Friday afternoon. There was also a recommendation to suspend Libya from the council.

Ban pointed to what he called a "growing crisis of refugees and displaced persons" in Libya. He estimated that 22,000 had fled through Tunisia in recent weeks and another 15,000 through Egypt, adding that "larger numbers are, in fact, trapped and unable to leave" for fears of their safety.

"We anticipate the situation to worsen," Ban said.

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N. Africa, Mideast unrest: 17 killed in western Libyan city, doctors say
An internal security officer waves the old national flag Thursday in Libya's rebellious city of Tobruk.
February 24th, 2011
09:00 PM ET

N. Africa, Mideast unrest: 17 killed in western Libyan city, doctors say

Across the Middle East and North Africa, CNN's reporters and iReporters are covering protests, many of them inspired by revolts in Tunisia and Egypt that toppled those countries' longtime rulers. Check out our story explaining the roots of the unrest in each country. Have a story to tell from the scene? Click here to send an iReport.

Developments on unrest in the Middle East and North Africa:

[LIBYA, 10:12 p.m. ET, 5:12 a.m. local] The following story from CNN's Ben Wedemen shows people in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi, walking through what is left of a Gadhafi family palace, which was trashed by demonstrators:

[ALGERIA, 9 p.m. ET, 3 a.m. local] U.S. President Barack Obama has issued a statement commending Algeria for formally lifting a state of emergency that had been in place since 1992.

"This is a positive sign that the government of Algeria is listening to the concerns and responding to the aspirations of its people, and we look forward to additional steps by the government that enable the Algerian people to fully exercise their universal rights, including freedom of expression, association and assembly," Obama said in the statement, which was released by the White House.

Algeria's move lifts restrictions on freedom of speech and assembly. Those restrictions were imposed in 1992 to combat an Islamist insurgency. The decision to lift the restrictions comes as Algeria, like other Arab nations, faces waves of protest.

[LIBYA, 8:06 p.m. ET, 3:06 a.m. local] Doctors at a field hospital in Martyrs Square in the northwestern Libyan city of Zawiya said Friday that 17 people were killed and another 150 were wounded when government forces attacked the city. They predicted the death toll would rise by morning.

Six pro-regime soldiers who were captured said they had been told that the city was being run by Arab militants and it was their job to liberate it, according to the doctors, who asked not to be identified. The soldiers added
that they had been misled so that they would fight against their countrymen, the doctors said.

By the end of the day, the situation was calm in the seaside city, they said.

[LIBYA, 8:02 p.m. ET, 3:02 a.m. local] The U.N. Security Council will meet privately at 3 p.m. Friday to discuss taking additional measures against Libya.

[LIBYA, 6:54 p.m. ET, 1:54 a.m. local] U.S. President Barack Obama spoke Thursday with the leaders of France, Italy and the United Kingdom on coordinating an international response to the crisis in Libya, the White House said.

The statement said Thursday's discussions were to "coordinate our urgent efforts to respond to developments and ensure that there is appropriate accountability."

"The leaders discussed the range of options that both the United States and European countries are preparing to hold the Libyan government accountable for its actions, as well as planning for humanitarian assistance," the White House statement said.

U.S. officials have said all options were under consideration, including sanctions and enforcement of a no-fly zone, to try to stop the Libyan government from attacking protesters.

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N. Africa, Mideast protests: Libya's interior minister kidnapped, media say
A Tunisian man crosses from Libya back into Tunisia on Wednesday as thousands of foreigners flee the restive country.
February 23rd, 2011
08:26 PM ET

N. Africa, Mideast protests: Libya's interior minister kidnapped, media say

Across the Middle East and North Africa, CNN's reporters and iReporters are covering protests, many of them inspired by revolts in Tunisia and Egypt that toppled those countries' longtime rulers. Check out our story explaining the roots of the unrest in each country. Have a story to tell from the scene? Click here to send an iReport.

Developments on unrest in the Middle East and North Africa:

[LIBYA, 9:40 p.m. ET, 4:40 a.m. local] CNN's Tommy Evans took the following photo of people crossing into Tunisia from Ras Ajdir, Libya, on Wednesday. Thousands of people were fleeing Libya due to the unrest and violence there. At this border crossing, Tunisian volunteers greeted people with food and medical care.

[LIBYA, 8:45 p.m. ET, 3:45 a.m. local] CNN's Ben Wedeman, reporting from the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi, which is in opposition control, says an ad-hoc local government has been put in place at Benghazi's courthouse. Citizens have set up committees to collect garbage, protect government property, and ensure an adequate supply of food and medicine.

[LIBYA, 7:22 p.m. ET, 2:22 a.m. local] Aaron David Miller, former Middle East negotiator in the U.S. State Department, writes that there are many good reasons for a careful U.S. approach to Libya, with the Americans-in-Libya factor being just one.

[LIBYA, 6:55 p.m. ET, 1:55 a.m. local] CNN's Ed Henry reports that although U.S. President Barack Obama had taken heat for a relatively muted response in the early days of the crisis in Libya, U.S. officials privately believe it was the best strategy because if Obama had bashed Libya's leader, it could have put the thousands of Americans who are in Libya in harm's way.

[YEMEN, 6:47 p.m. ET, 2:47 a.m. local] Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh is calling for an end to the protests in that country and said he supports the creation of a national unity government to oversee upcoming parliamentary elections, the state-run news service Saba reported Wednesday.

He said that demonstrations must stop to "prepare for a suitable atmosphere" for the elections, and he also repeated his pledge not to run for re-election, Saba reported.

Anti-government demonstrators say that's not good enough. Undeterred by an attack on their sit- a day earlier – when at least two people were killed, according to an opposition lawmaker - anti-government protesters gathered at Sanaa University again on Wednesday to demand that Saleh step down.

[ALGERIA, 6:29 p.m. ET, 12:29 a.m. local] The United States welcomes Algeria's decision to lift its 1992 state of emergency decree "as a positive step," U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said in an e-mailed statement.

"We reaffirm our support for the universal rights of the Algerian people, including the freedom of assembly and expression," Crowley said.

Algeria's move, announced yesterday, lifts restrictions on freedom of speech and assembly. Those restrictions were imposed in 1992 to combat an Islamist insurgency. The decision to lift the restrictions comes as Algeria, like other Arab nations, faces waves of protest.

[LIBYA, 6:01 p.m. ET, 1:01 a.m. local] U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley says via Twitter that a chartered ship that is tasked to evacuate U.S. citizens from Libya's capital to Malta is delayed "due to high seas."

"Citizens are safe on board. It will leave when the weather permits," Crowley's message says.

The ferry picked up U.S. citizens, embassy staff, and some third-country nationals Wednesday at central Tripoli's As-shahab port. The ferry can hold 575 people; it's not clear how many people are on board.

[LIBYA, 5:39 p.m. ET, 12:39 a.m. local] Here is video of U.S. President Barack Obama's statement on Libya. In the statement, Obama said the United States strongly condemns the violence in Libya, is sending top envoys to Europe to discuss the situation, and is considering a series of options including sanctions against the Libyan government.

[LIBYA, 5:23 p.m. ET, 12:23 a.m. local] In his statement on Libya, U.S. President Barack Obama said he has instructed Bill Burns, undersecretary of state for political affairs, to make several stops "in Europe and the region to intensify our consultation with allies and partners about the situation in Libya."

He also said he is sending U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Geneva, Switzerland, on Monday, to meet with a number of foreign ministers convening for a session of the Human Rights Council.

"There, she'll hold consultations with her counterparts on events throughout the region and continue to ensure that we join with the international community to speak with one voice to the government and the people of Libya," Obama said.

The Human Rights Council, part of the United Nations, is negotiating a resolution on Libya, according to European diplomats who spoke to CNN.

Obama, in his statement, said the United States is looking at a series of options - including sanctions - unilaterally as well as through international institutions, allies and partners to put pressure on Libya's government in light of the violence there.

[LIBYA, 5:15 p.m. ET, 12:15 a.m. local] More from U.S. President Barack Obama's statement on Libya: He said the United States "will continue to stand up for freedom, stand up for justice and stand up for the dignity of all people."

[LIBYA, 5:12 p.m. ET, 12:12 a.m. local] More from U.S. President Barack Obama's statement on Libya: He said the United States strongly condemns the use of violence in Libya, adding that "the suffering and bloodshed is outrageous and it is unacceptable."

He said Libya "must be held accountable" for its failure to meet its responsibilities. "The entire world is watching," he said.

[LIBYA, 5:09 p.m. ET, 12:09 a.m. local] The United States is doing "everything we can" to protect American citizens in Libya, President Barack Obama said. The United States also is looking at options to put pressure on Libya's government - including sanctions - in light of the violence there, Obama said.

Obama still is speaking about Libya, and we'll have more shortly.

[LIBYA, 5:05 p.m. ET, 12:05 a.m. local] The daughter of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, Aisha Gadhafi, tells Libyan state TV that she's heard reports that the United Nations has dropped her as an unpaid goodwill ambassador, but she says she can't verify whether it's true.

"But all the Libyans, who know me and I (know) them, they know that I am the goodwill ambassador with or without the United Nations," she said.

Earlier, the United Nations said it did terminate Gadhafi's daughter's stint as a goodwill ambassador for the U.N. Development Program. U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky said Aisha Gadhafi was appointed goodwill ambassador for Libya in 2009 to address HIV/AIDS and violence against women in the country. Nesirky said the U.N. agency ended its agreement with her given recent events in Libya.

[LIBYA, 3:56 p.m. ET, 10:56 p.m. local] U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has condemned what he called "egregious violations" of human rights in Libya's attempt to put down a spreading revolt Wednesday.

"Those responsible for brutally shedding the blood of innocents must be punished," he told reporters.

[LIBYA, 3:39 p.m. ET, 10:39 p.m. local] U.S. prices for crude oil settles at $98.10 a barrel after hitting $100 for the first time since October 2008 as reports of Libyan oil production shutdowns swirled.

[LIBYA, 3:32 p.m. ET, 10:32 p.m. local] U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that the Libyan government "will be held accountable" for the acts of violence taken against protesters.

"Everything will be on the table," she told reporters at the State Department in Washington. "We will look at all the possible options" to end the violence.

"This is now the moment for the international community to act together," she said. The U.S. government "deeply regrets the loss of life" that has occurred in Libya.

Clinton noted that the situation in Libya is "fluid and uncertain" at the moment, and said U.S. authorities are "consulting closely" with representatives of other governments. Clinton stressed that the State Department is encouraging all Americans to leave Libya immediately.

[LIBYA, 3:25 p.m. ET, 10:25 p.m. local] A U.S. chartered ship that is tasked to evacuate U.S. citizens out of Libya will stay in port in Tripoli all night because of bad weather, diplomatic sources say. The ship is expected to leave at some point Thursday morning, the sources said.

[ZIMBABWE, 3:11 p.m. ET] Zimbabwe isn't in North Africa or the Middle East, but we have an update on a development in Zimbabwe that has a connection to unrest in those regions. Last week, dozens of political activists and union members were rounded up in Zimbabwe on suspicion of plotting an Egyptian-style uprising against longtime President Robert Mugabe. On Wednesday, a prosecutor said they've been charged with treason and face possible death sentences.

[LIBYA, 1:39 p.m. ET, 8:39 p.m. local] U.S. oil prices spiked above $100 a barrel for the first time in more than two years Wednesday, as reports of Libyan oil production shutdowns swirled.

[LIBYA, 1:06 p.m. ET, 8:06 p.m. local] President Barack Obama condemns the violence in Libya and will make a public statement on the situation Wednesday or Thursday, White House spokesman Jay Carney said.

[LIBYA, 12:55 p.m. ET, 7:55 p.m. local] The United Nations has dropped Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's daughter as an unpaid goodwill ambassador, the U.N. announced. Aisha al-Gadhafi was appointed to the post in 2009 to address HIV/AIDS and violence against women in Libya, U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky said.

[LIBYA, 12:45 p.m. ET, 7:45 p.m. local] Italian oil giant Eni, the largest foreign oil company in Libya, said production in the country has been partially shut down due to ongoing violence.

[LIBYA, 12:25 p.m. ET, 7:25 p.m. local] The death toll in Libya may be as high as 1,000, a representative for Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said.

[LIBYA, 9:45 a.m., 4:45 p.m. local] A Libyan military aircraft crashed Wednesday southwest of Benghazi after the crew refused to follow orders to bomb the city, Libya's Quryna newspaper reported.

[ISRAEL, 9:39 a.m. ET, 4:39 p.m. local] Israeli President Shimon Peres called the presence of Iranian warships in the Suez Canal a "provocation" and not a serious threat, but he warned an audience of Europeans that they face an "existential" danger from Iran's nuclear program. In Iran, a military commander expressed patriotic pride over the first Iranian vessels to sail through the Suez since the Islamic republic's 1979 revolution.

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N. Africa, Mideast protests: Libya's interior minister quits
Algerian students demonstrate against government policies Tuesday in Algiers.
February 22nd, 2011
09:32 PM ET

N. Africa, Mideast protests: Libya's interior minister quits

Across the Middle East and North Africa, CNN's reporters and iReporters are covering protests, many of them inspired by revolts in Tunisia and Egypt that toppled those countries' longtime rulers. Check out our story explaining the roots of the unrest in each country. Have a story to tell from the scene? Click here to send an iReport.

Developments on unrest in the Middle East and North Africa:

[LIBYA, 10:25 p.m. ET, 5:25 a.m. local] Via Twitter, the U.S. State Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs says U.S. citizens wishing to leave Libya should go to As-shahab Port as soon as possible after 9 a.m. and arrive no later than 10 a.m.

"U.S. government chartered ferry will depart for Valletta, Malta no later than 3 p.m. on Wednesday," the bureau said via Twitter.

Earlier, a senior administration official told CNN that the State Department is chartering ferries to take Americans from Tripoli's As-shahab port to Valletta, Malta on Wednesday.

[LIBYA, 10:18 p.m. ET, 5:18 a.m. local] With the United States unable to land any charter aircraft in Tripoli to fly U.S. citizens our of Libya on Tuesday, the U.S. State Department is chartering ferries to take travelers from Tripoli's As-shahab port to Valletta, Malta on Wednesday, according to a senior administration official not authorized to speak for attribution.

"Tomorrow the question will be if they let the ferry dock. If that happens, our people will flow out," the official said, adding that the reason the charter aircraft didn't land was because the Libyan authorities did not give them permission to do so.

Of the several thousand U.S. citizens in Libya, most are dual nationals; those solely with U.S. citizenship number about 600, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said.

The State Department issued a travel alert for non-essential staff to leave the country, an order affecting 35 employees and their families.

Crowley said the airport in Tripoli remained open in "challenging" circumstances. International carriers, he said, were making more seats available for departure.

[LIBYA, 9:32 p.m. ET, 4:32 a.m. local] The video below shows an interview with a Tripoli woman who says security forces there are trying "to not let anyone protest."

"They're trying so hard to show that the country is fine, the country is not falling, the regime is not falling, but that's not happening," she said.

[LIBYA, 8:40 p.m. ET, 3:40 a.m. local] A Libyan government spokesman, speaking on television, said U.S. and Israeli intelligence operatives were behind the unrest. "We will get rid of them, in collaboration with our people in the eastern province," he said.

He said Libyan authorities have asked those tribe members who have attacked barracks and police stations to return the weapons they had taken "because security and safety will return to normal." Referring to reports that the military had attacked civilians, he said, "We have reports and evidence they are not using arms unless against those who
attacked the barracks."

[LIBYA, 7:52 p.m. ET, 2:52 a.m. local] Abdul Fattah Younis al Abidi, who confirmed to CNN that he stepped down as Libya's interior minister, says Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi is "a stubborn man" who will not give up.

"He will either commit suicide or he will get killed," said Abidi, who said he has known him since 1964.

[LIBYA, 6:56 p.m. ET, 1:38 a.m. local] Libya's interior minister has confirmed to CNN that he has quit the government and is supporting the protesters, who he predicted will achieve victory in a matter "of days or hours."

Ex-Interior Minister Abdul Fattah Younis al Abidi told CNN that he resigned Monday after hearing that some 300 unarmed civilians had been killed in Benghazi alone during the prior two to three days, and he accused Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi of planning to attack civilians on a wide scale.

"Gadhafi told me he was planning on using airplanes against the people in Benghazi and I told him that he will have thousands of people killed if he does that," Abidi said in an Arabic-language telephone interview conducted Wednesday.

[LIBYA, 6:38 p.m. ET, 1:38 a.m. local] Libya's deputy ambassador to the United Nations, Ibrahim Dabbashi, who on Monday accused Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi of genocide, told reporters at the U.N. on Tuesday that he again calls "on the regime to stop killing the Libyan people."

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N. Africa, Mideast protests - Gadhafi: I'm still here
Anti-government demonstrators in Sanaa, Yemen, on Monday.
February 21st, 2011
11:44 PM ET

N. Africa, Mideast protests - Gadhafi: I'm still here

Across the Middle East and North Africa, CNN's reporters and iReporters are covering protests, many of them inspired by revolts in Tunisia and Egypt that toppled those countries' longtime rulers. Check out our story explaining the roots of the unrest in each country. Have a story to tell from the scene? Click here to send an iReport.

Developments on unrest in the Middle East and North Africa:

LIBYA 11:45 p.m. ET, 6:45 a.m. local: U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called on Libya to immediately stop the "unacceptable" attacks on anti-government demonstrators.

"Like you and many others around the world, I have seen very disturbing and shocking scenes, where Libyan authorities have been firing at demonstrators from warplanes and helicopters," Ban said from Los Angeles. "This is
unacceptable. This must stop immediately. This is a serious violation of international humanitarian law."

LIBYA, 11:22 p.m. ET, 6:22 a.m. local: At the request of Libya's deputy ambassador to the United Nations - who earlier today called the crackdown in Libya a "genocide" - the U.N. Security Council scheduled a Tuesday morning meeting on Libya. This will be the first time the council has held consultations over any of the revolts that have swept Arab nations since January.

LIBYA, 11:09 p.m. ET, 6:09 a.m. local: A Libyan woman, speaking on condition of anonymity to CNN's Anderson Cooper, recounts a massacre near her home in Tripoli:

BAHRAIN, 8:51 p.m. ET, 4:51 a.m. local: CNN's Tim Lister reports from Bahrain, where he walked among protesters in the capital's Pearl Roundabout. Thousands of demonstrators were in the roundabout on Monday, preparing for a massive demonstration on Tuesday. Lister says the demonstrators' encampment has taken on an air of permanence, with tents, makeshift kitchens, even a rudimentary field hospital.

More on the Bahrain protests:

LIBYA, 7:40 p.m. ET, 2:40 a.m. local: About 15,000 of Libya's 2 million to 3 million Egyptians returned Monday across the border, border officials said.

The Egyptian military has set up refugee camps near its border with Libya and set up two mobile hospitals at the Salloum border crossing to assist Egyptians fleeing the protests in Libya, Egypt's state-run news website EgyNews
reported late Monday.

LIBYA, 7:33 p.m. ET, 2:33 a.m. local: Here is more on Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's 40-second appearance - in which he said he still was in Libya - on state-run TV Tuesday morning:

"I want to have some rest," the embattled Libyan leader told a reporter in front of what Libyan television said was his house as he pulled out an umbrella in the rain. "Because I was talking to the young man at Green Square,
and I want to stay the night with them but then it started raining. I want to show them that I am in Tripoli, not in Venezuela. Don't believe those dogs in the media."

Green Square is where pro-government demonstrators in Tripoli have been located.

LIBYA, 6:49 p.m. ET, 1:49 a.m. local: Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi said Tuesday morning on state-run television that he is not in Venezuela as rumored, but in Tripoli.

Earlier today, British Foreign Secretary William Hague told Reuters that Libyan leader Gadhafi may have been on his way to Venezuela.

Here is video of Gadhafi's comments to Libyan state-run TV:

LIBYA, 6:46 p.m. ET, 1:46 a.m. local: CNN's Cairo bureau chief Ben Wedeman has entered eastern Libya and is the first western television reporter to enter and report from inside Libya during the current crisis. He says much of eastern Libya appears to be in opposition control.

"What we saw as we were driving in is that this part of eastern Libya is clearly under the controls of the rebels - the forces that are opposed to Col. Gadhafi," Wedeman by phone on CNN's "The Situation Room."

"We saw along the road a lot of groups of men with shotguns - with machine guns - in civilian clothing. They call themselves basically the popular committees that are trying to maintain some sort of order along the way.

"Clearly the situation is very unstable. What we saw was that there are a lot of people – mostly Egyptians – who are leaving Libya at the moment. At the Egyptian border we were told by Egyptian officials that 15,000 Egyptian s left Libya, returning to Egypt."

"There are some signs of normal life. Gas stations are open. Stores are open. We saw … what looked like kebab shops that are functioning. There is a fair amount of traffic on the road, although I was told that was mostly Egyptians leaving the country."

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Protesters, police clash in Algerian capital
A woman waves an Algerian flag at a demonstration on February 12 in southwestern France.
February 12th, 2011
05:43 PM ET

Protesters, police clash in Algerian capital

Tensions erupted in another restive North African nation as security forces in Algeria on Saturday clashed with anti-government protesters who chanted, "Change the power."

Police detained about 100 protesters in the nation's capital of Algiers, according to the Algerian League for Human Rights. The league is one of the main opposition groups that organized the rallies - unauthorized gatherings that came a day after embattled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak stepped down.

"We are here once again to tell this government that we want an Algeria (that is) democratic," one protester told Reuters television. "That's why we are here today and we will always be, as this power is still here, we will be always here too."

More than 3,000 demonstrators, including activists, students, doctors, and parliament members, joined the rally but were blocked by more than 30,000 police officers, said league president Mustafa Boushashi.

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