At least 14 passengers on a Spain-bound vessel died when the craft sunk off the coast of Morocco, a Moroccan official said Friday.
Mustapha Khalfi, Moroccan minister of communication, said the sinking took place Thursday in the Mediterranean Sea off the Moroccan city of Alhucemas. FULL POST
[Update 10:30 p.m. ET] A ship filled with activists who say they are there to help women receive abortions was escorted out of the Moroccan port of Smir after the government initially blocked the harbor and prevented residents from accessing the vessel.
Abortion is illegal in Morocco, and the country's Health Ministry said in a statement that it had not authorized the vessel's visit or any procedures by nonresident doctors.
The "abortion ship" is run by Women on Waves, which was founded in 1999 by a Dutch doctor to provide abortions to women in countries where the practice is illegal.
The Women on Waves ship takes women into international waters to perform the abortions, which are legal under Dutch law, until 6.5 weeks into the pregnancy.
But authorities in the predominantly Muslim country seemed to effectively block the activists efforts on Thursday.
A moderate Islamist party claimed victory in Morocco's first parliamentary elections since constitutional reforms this summer.
The Justice and Development Party (PJD) won 107 of the 395 seats, Interior Minister Taib Cherkaoui said Sunday.
The next biggest winner was the Istiqlal Party, also known as the Independence Party, with 60 seats, the Interior Ministry's website reported.
The number of parties involved in Morocco's multi-party system means it was unlikely a single party would win a majority of the seats, so a coalition government would have to be formed.FULL STORY
A plane crash in southern Morocco killed 78 people Tuesday, the state news agency reported.
The Moroccan C-130 military plane crashed in the southern part of the country, state-run Agence Maghreb Arabe Presse reported.
The aircraft, belonging to Morocco's Royal Armed Forces, crashed into a mountain as it attempted to land at a military airport about eight kilometers (five miles) away, the news agency said. Three people were hurt.FULL STORY
Moroccans began voting Friday in a referendum on constitutional reforms that would weaken King Mohammed VI's powers and boost those of the government.
The king announced the referendum in a rare address to the nation last month after unprecedented protests swept the North African country.
If the draft is ratified in the referendum, its most radical change would be empowering voters to select a prime minister, ending the longstanding practice in which the king has selected his own man for the job.
The prime minister has tended to take his lead from the sovereign on key matters of state.
About 40,000 polling places have opened across the country to allow 13 million-plus eligible voters to cast their ballots, the state news agency Maghreb Arabe Press said Friday.FULL STORY
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 and escalated into seemingly unending violence.
Here are the latest developments from each country and information on the roots of the unrest.
- Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Monday offered vague promises of reform and clear threats against protesters. The Syrian leader said he was "working on getting the military back to their barracks as soon as possible" but also warned that the government would "work on tracking down everyone who shed blood or plotted in shedding the blood of the Syrian people, and we will hold them accountable." He raised the possibility of amending the country's constitution and referred to the need for a "national dialogue" - but made clear that his government would not engage in one-on-one talks with the opposition.
- Human rights activist Malath Aumran claimed that security forces attacked people at Aleppo University and arrested more than 50 students, some of whom were protesting against the Assad speech. CNN could not independently confirm the report.
- The European Union Monday condemned "in the strongest possible terms the worsening violence in Syria." The EU appealed to Syrian authorities to "put an immediate end to arbitrary arrests and intimidations, release all those arrested in connection with protests, as well as other political prisoners who remain in detention despite the recent amnesty."
- Syria's state news agency on Monday claimed a mass grave in Jisr al-Shugur - where thousands of people have fled a Syrian military offensive - contained "bodies of the martyrs of security forces and police who were assassinated by the armed terrorist gangs." The state news agency said a large cache of weapons had been discovered in the town, which is situated near the Turkish border.
Roots of unrest: More than 1,100 people may have died since the unrest began in mid-March after teens were arrested for writing anti-government graffiti in Daraa, according to Amnesty International. As the crackdown intensified, demonstrators changed their demands from calls for "freedom," "dignity" and an end to abuses by the security forces to calls for the regime's overthrow. On April 19, Syria's cabinet lifted an emergency law, which had been in effect since 1963. But security forces then moved quickly to crack down. Government opponents allege massive human rights abuses.