- - Sunday, September 18, 2011

YEMEN

Government forces open fire on protesters

SANAA | Yemeni government forces opened fire with anti-aircraft guns and automatic weapons on tens of thousands of anti-government protesters in the capital demanding ouster of their longtime ruler, killing at least 26 and wounding dozens, medical officials and witnesses said.

After nightfall, Sanaa sank into complete darkness after a sudden power outage, as protesters took control of a vital bridge, halting traffic and setting up tents. Thousands of other protesters attacked government buildings and set fires to buildings they said were used by snipers and pro-government thugs.

The attack was the deadliest in months against protesters and comes as tensions have been escalating in the long, drawn-out stalemate between the regime and the opposition. The president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, left for Saudi Arabia for treatment after being severely wounded in a June 3 attack on his palace, raising hopes for his swift removal  but instead, he has dug in, refusing to step down.

SYRIA

Opposition calls on Assad to end crackdown

BEIRUT — Dozens of Syrian opposition members on Sunday called on President Bashar Assad to end his deadly six-month crackdown or face an escalation in peaceful protests, as security forces fired warning shots to disperse high school students calling for the regime’s downfall.

The weekend meeting drew more than 200 opposition figures, including leading writer Michel Kilo and Hassan Abdul-Azim, who heads the outlawed Arab Socialist Democratic Union party.

It was also notable because it took place inside Syria, rather than in a neighboring country, as most others have.

A statement released after the meeting called on Mr. Assad’s regime to immediately end its “acts of repression,” and it urged protesters to keep their movement peaceful and not be tempted to take up arms.

The opposition members also stuck by an earlier position to oppose international intervention in Syria, though some protesters on the streets have called for unspecified outside help.

SAUDI ARABIA

Al Qaeda suspects on trial in plot against U.S. forces

RIYADH — Forty-one suspected members accused of planning attacks on U.S. forces in Kuwait and Qatar are on trial in the Saudi capital, the Saudi news agency reported Sunday.

Some of the defendants were charged with recruiting and sending militants to fight in Iraq and sending money to Taliban fighters, the news agency reported. It did not say when they were arrested.

The report said one Qatari, one Yemeni and an Afghan are among the accused, while the others defendants are Saudis.

INDIA

Strong earthquake kills 9 in remote northeast region

GAUHATI — A strong earthquake shook northeastern India and Nepal on Sunday night, killing at least nine people, damaging buildings and sending lawmakers in Nepal’s capital running into the streets.

The quake, with a preliminary magnitude of 6.9, was felt across northeast India, including the capital, New Delhi. It triggered at least two aftershocks of magnitudes 6.1 and 5.3, Indian seismology official R.S. Dattatreyan said. He warned that more aftershocks were possible.

At least four people in India’s Sikkim state were killed and an unspecified number of people were injured, state police Chief Jasbir Singh said. Nepal’s government said five people died and dozens were hurt there.

The full extent of damage was not immediately known because the region is sparsely populated with many living in remote areas which were cut off by mudslides triggered by the quake, Mr. Singh said.

MALAYSIA

Government warns against travel to southern Thailand

KUALA LUMPUR — Malaysia warned against nonessential travel to southern Thailand on Sunday, after four of Malaysians were killed in bomb attacks in the insurgency-plagued region.

Thai police have said militants may have deliberately targeted tourists in bombings near two hotels and a Chinese-Thai cultural center in a coordinated attack in Narathiwat province Friday night.

Malaysia’s foreign ministry issued a statement Sunday advising travelers to avoid southern Thailand until the security situation improves.

Those killed in the attacks included a 3-year-old boy, the ministry said. The bodies have been returned to Malaysia.

A seven-year rebellion in Thailand’s Muslim-majority south has left thousands dead.

About 4,800 people have been killed in near-daily attacks since early 2004, according to Deep South Watch, an independent research group that monitors the conflict in three southern provinces near the Malaysian border.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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