World

Bahrain seized by 2nd day of Egypt-style protests

Bahrain's King bin Isa Al Khalifa makes a rare national TV address to try to defuse the widening crisis in his kingdom, where Egypt-inspired demonstrations have gripped the capital city for a second day.

Yemen in day five of anti-government demonstrations

Anti-monarchy demonstrators gathered around the Pearl Monument centered on a main square in Manama, Bahrain, on Tuesday. ((Hasan Jamali/Associated Press))

Bahrain's King bin Isa Al Khalifa made a rare national TV address on Tuesday to try to defuse the widening crisis in his kingdom, where Egypt-inspired demonstrations gripped the capital city for a second day.

"We extend our condolences to the parents of the dear sons who died yesterday and today. We pray that they are inspired by the Almighty's patience, solace and tranquility," said the king, who had previously called for an emergency Arab summit to discuss the growing unrest.

Bahrain police clashed with anti-monarchy protesters in Manama on Monday. ((Hamad I. Mohammed/Reuters))

The king also pledged an investigation into the killings and promising to push ahead with reforms, which include loosening state controls on the media and Internet.

Security forces appeared to hold back as thousands poured into Pearl Square in Manama.

But key highways were blocked in an apparent attempt to choke off access to the vast traffic circle —which protesters quickly renamed "Nation's Square" and erected banners such as "Peaceful" that were prominent in Cairo's Tahrir Square, the epicenter of protests there.

The dramatic moves Tuesday came just hours after a second protester died in clashes with police in the island kingdom on the Arabian Peninsula.

A 21-year-old man died from injuries after police fired birdshot during a melee in the parking lot at Salmaniya Medical Complex, where mourners had gathered for the funeral procession of a man killed during protests Monday, the officials said.

Angry Yemenis face tear gas, batons

South of Bahrain, Yemenis scuffled with police as thousands marched in the capital for a fifth consecutive day in Egypt-inspired protests demanding political reforms and the ouster of the country's U.S.-allied president.

Police used tear gas and batons in an unsuccessful attempt to disperse the demonstrators. Some 3,000 protesters continued their march from Sanaa University toward Sanaa's centre, chanting slogans against President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

The procession gained momentum with hundreds of students and rights activists joining along the way.

Riot police blocked the main road leading to the city centre and clashed with protesters throwing stones. Three protesters were injured and rushed to the hospital in ambulances.

About 2,000 government supporters also staged a counter-demonstration in the centre, raising concerns about potential clashes.

Promise to step down in 2013

Saleh, who has been in office for more than 30 years, has been contacting powerful tribal leaders in a bid to enlist their support as he tries to defuse the protests, according to officials familiar with the president's moves. They spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject.

The officials said Saleh feared that his rule would not withstand the pressure of a tribal decision to join the protesters in seeking his ouster.

For now, said the officials, Saleh was counting on the security forces and armed backers who support his rule in dealing with the protesters. He also promised to step down in 2013.

Impoverished Yemen is one of several countries in the Middle East feeling the aftershocks of pro-reform uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia.

The protests in Yemen have mushroomed since crowds gathered Friday to celebrate the ouster of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak after an 18-day revolt fueled by grievances similar to those in Yemen — poverty, unemployment and corruption.

Anti-government protests have spread across the Middle East and North Africa. Click on the squares to learn more about each country's demonstrations.

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