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YEMEN

Malnourishment hits 750,000 Yemeni children

SANAA | A year of turmoil in Yemen has increased the number of malnourished children under the age of 5 to about 750,000, UNICEF said Tuesday, appealing to the government and the international community to help develop the country's infrastructure to tackle the problem.

In some parts of this country of 20 million people, the number of children suffering from malnutrition has doubled from what it was in 2000, said Maria Calivis, UNICEF director for the Middle East and North Africa.

Yemen for years has experienced localized insurgencies, and the number of displaced people has increased during the yearlong uprising against authoritarian President Ali Abdullah Saleh, inspired by other Arab Spring revolts.

According to UNICEF, 60 percent of internal refugees, or about 300,000, are Yemeni children.

ISRAEL

Extremist Jews attack woman

JERUSALEM | Israeli police said a group of ultra-Orthodox extremists attacked a woman who was putting up posters in a troubled town near Jerusalem.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said about a dozen ultra-Orthodox men in the town of Beit Shemesh surrounded the woman Tuesday, pelted her with stones and slashed her car's tires. He said the woman suffered minor injuries.

Mr. Rosenfeld said it's not clear why she was targeted. The woman was putting up posters for Israel's national lottery at the time.

Beit Shemesh has experienced sharp tensions between ultra-Orthodox extremists and its remaining secular and modern Orthodox Jewish residents.

The recent case of an 8-year-old girl who was afraid to walk to school because extremists spat on her and cursed her attracted international attention.

EGYPT

Military ruler to lift emergency laws

CAIRO | Egypt's military ruler on Tuesday decreed a partial lifting of the nation's hated emergency laws while saying the draconian measures would still apply to crimes committed by "thugs."

Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi said in a televised address to the nation that the emergency laws would be lifted effective Wednesday, the first anniversary of the start of the popular uprising that toppled longtime authoritarian ruler Hosni Mubarak.

Field Marshal Tantawi and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces that he chairs took power when Mr. Mubarak stepped down on Feb. 11.

His decision to partially lift the decades-old laws, which give police far-reaching powers, likely would not satisfy rights groups that have been campaigning for the total removal of the laws. They have complained about repeated use by the military of the term "thugs" to justify crackdowns on protesters.

JORDAN

King to receive Hamas leader

AMMAN | Jordan's king will host the leader of Hamas this weekend, Jordan's information minister said Tuesday. It will be his first official visit since his expulsion 13 years ago, another sign that Jordan is seeking a more active role in Middle Eastern diplomacy.

The visit is seen as part of Jordan's effort to engage with previously shunned Islamists, who have been gaining ground across the region in the Arab Spring uprisings that toppled dictators in Egypt and Tunisia.

Islamists make up the most influential opposition in Jordan and have been gaining strength in recent months, though King Abdullah II has the final say in all matters.

Hamas, a militant Islamist Palestinian group, rules the Gaza Strip, but its leader, Khaled Mashaal, is based in Damascus, Syria. He moved there in 1999 after Jordan expelled him for "illicit and harmful" activities. In 1997, he survived an Israeli assassination attempt in Amman.

Earlier this month, Jordan, a strong supporter of peace between the Arabs and Israel, began hosting meetings between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators to try to find a way to restart their stalled peace talks.

MOROCCO

Moroccan dies of wounds after self-immolation

CASABLANCA | One of two young Moroccans who set themselves on fire in Rabat last week during a protest by unemployed university graduates died of his wounds on Tuesday, a hospital source said.

The two men set themselves alight near an Education Ministry building Wednesday, the latest in a string of self-immolations across the region since the Arab Spring started more than a year ago.

A doctor at Casablanca's Ibn Rochd hospital said Abdelwahab Zeidoun, 27, died of his wounds at "around 5 a.m."

Mr. Zeidoun, who held a master's degree from the University of Fez, was among a group of five who doused themselves with gas during a sit-in and tried to set themselves alight.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports

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