Morocco’s interior minister says five charred bodies were found in a bank set
alight by troublemakers on the sidelines of one of many protests nationwide
pushing for more democracy in the kingdom.
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Taeib Cherqaoui told reporters
on Monday that at least 128 people – mostly security personnel – had been
wounded in unrest linked to protests a day earlier that drew at least 37,000
demonstrators in dozens of towns and cities.
The minister said that
“troublemakers” vandalized dozens of public buildings, stores and banks,
including one in the northeastern city of Al- Hoceima, where the five bodies
were found. He said 120 people had been arrested.
The official MAP news
agency, citing witnesses, said the bodies were of “rioters who had tried to loot
the bank” while others set fire to the building, AFP reported.
protests were the largest demonstrations in Morocco since uprisings in Egypt and
Tunisia overthrew their longtime presidents and sent a wave of protests across
the Arab world. While placards and slogans did not directly attack King Mohammed
VI, it was the first time demands for constitutional reform had been publicly
expressed by ordinary Moroccans.
Also on Monday, Yemen’s embattled leader
rejected demands that he step down, saying widespread demonstrations against his
regime were unacceptable acts of provocation.
President Ali Abdullah Saleh, in power for three decades, offered to begin a
dialogue with protesters. The proposal was quickly rebuffed as insincere by an
In another attempt to defuse anger, Saleh told a news
conference that he had ordered troops not to fire at anti-government protesters
except in self-defense. At least 11 people have been killed since protests
erupted earlier this month, including a youth shot dead on Monday, medical
On Monday, around a dozen opposition MPs who vowed to
take to the streets in a statement issued the day before joined students who had
been protesting for nine days. AFP reported that security forces surrounded the
protesters as they gathered in a square near Sanaa university, which they have
dubbed Al-Huriya (Liberty Square), brandishing banners declaring: “People want
change,” “People want to overthrow the regime” and “Leave!”
The protesters, who
have set up tents at the square, vowed to stand firm despite Saleh having
announced the formation of three committees to examine issues relating
respectively to security, medical care and nutrition.
In Iran, Tehran and
other cities remained on lockdown Monday as security forces continued to enforce
a ban on street demonstrations. The London-based Arabic daily Asharq al-Awsat
reported on Sunday that Iranian authorities had recruited 1,500 Hezbollah
fighters to help crush opposition in the country. According to the report,
leaders of Iran’s opposition said around 1,500 Hezbollah members arrived from
Lebanon over the past few days to aid the Iranian regime in dispersing
anti-government protests that broke out last week. Authorities have reportedly
been stationing them in civilian clothing throughout the streets of the
As of Monday night, the Asharq al-Awsat
report had yet to be
confirmed by other sources.
Egypt’s top prosecutor requested on Monday
that the foreign assets of ousted president Hosni Mubarak and his family be
frozen, state TV announced.
Security officials said the
prosecutor-general asked the Foreign Ministry to contact countries around the
world in order for them to freeze these assets. The president’s domestic assets
were frozen soon after he stepped down, they added.
The freeze applies to
Mubarak, his wife, his two sons and two daughters-in-law, the officials
The announcement came as British Prime Minister David Cameron
arrived in Cairo to meet with top Egyptian officials, the first arrival by a
world leader since Mubarak’s fall. He said he would talk to those in charge to
ensure that “this really is a genuine transition” to civilian rule.
in Tunisia, the spark for much of the Arab world’s subsequent protests, the
government asked Saudi Arabia on Sunday whether its exiled former president Zine
El Abidine Ben Ali was dead, and demanded his extradition if he was still alive,
as thousands of people protested in the capital demanding that the caretaker
The 74-year-old Ben Ali fled to Saudi Arabia on
January 14 following a massive popular uprising that ended his 23-year rule, and
prompted a wave of protests against other autocratic leaders across the Arab
Tunisia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it had asked
Saudi Arabia to provide information “as soon as possible” on whether the ousted
president’s health had deteriorated or on “the possibility of his death” in the
wake of news reports on the matter in recent days.
reported by the official news agency TAP, also asked Saudi Arabia to extradite
Ben Ali following “new charges against the ousted president for his implication
in severe crimes.”
The call for extradition came a day after state TV
jolted many Tunisians with a report showing investigators unearthing what they
claimed were troves of jewels, cash and other riches in a secret safe tucked
behind a bookshelf in a former Ben Ali palace.