SANA, Yemen — Deadly violence convulsed the streets of Yemen's capital for a second day on Monday as government security forces battled soldiers who have joined antigovernment protesters in their 7-month-old movement to force President Ali Abdullah Saleh to resign.
Taken together, the two days constituted the worst violence in the capital since the beginning of the uprising in Yemen, the Arab world's most impoverished country and a haven for Islamic militants.
Medical officials in the capital said at least 28 people were killed on Monday, pushing the death toll from two days of fighting in Sana to more than 50 — most of them unarmed protesters caught in the shooting — and raising fears here that the escalation of deadly mayhem is hurtling Yemen toward a civil war.
In another ominous sign of unraveling, officials closed Sana's airport for a few hours on Monday night, one of the few times that has happened since the uprising began in February. There were conflicting reports of a cease-fire late Monday night.
Saleh, the 33-year autocrat and U.S. ally, has been recuperating in Saudi Arabia from an assassination attempt here more than three months ago. He has vowed to return to Yemen, despite his repeated pledges to step down in a negotiated transfer of power.
Fighters take over Gadhafi stronghold
TRIPOLI, Libya — Facing little resistance, revolutionary fighters on Monday captured the airport and other parts of a southern desert city that is one of the last remaining strongholds of Moammar Gadhafi's forces.
The capture of Sabha would be a welcome victory for Libya's new rulers, who have struggled to rout forces loyal to Gadhafi a month after sweeping into Tripoli and forcing the ousted leader into hiding.
A push to capture Gadhafi's hometown of Sirte and the mountain enclave of Bani Walid has stalled as well-armed forces loyal to the fugitive leader fight back fiercely with rockets and other heavy weaponry. Libya's new rulers have frequently claimed gains only to find their forces beaten back.
A force of three southern brigades pushed its way into Sabha, deep in the Sahara Desert, on Monday.
Syria: Government forces killed five people in raids on antigovernment protesters determined to bring down the autocratic regime. The U.N. human rights office says Syrian security forces have killed at least 100 people during the past week.
Egypt: The government barred the formation Monday of a political party by an Islamist group that was once involved in a bloody insurgency. The Political Parties' Affairs Committee said it rejected the request by al-Gamaa al-Islamiyya because its proposed party is based on "religious grounds in violation of the law."