BEIRUT, Lebanon — A bomb struck a carwash Saturday in Aleppo, Syria, killing at least five people, a day after government troops opened fire to break up protests against a violent university raid in Syria's largest city.
Aleppo, an important economic hub, has largely stayed out of the revolt against President Bashar Assad that erupted nearly 14 months ago, but the raid on Aleppo University that killed four students earlier in the week has swelled the crowds of protesters.
On Friday, thousands marched against the university crackdown in what activists said were the largest protests in the city yet. However, it remained unclear if the regime is losing major ground in Aleppo.
Bomb attacks have become more common in Aleppo and the capital of Damascus, often targeting buildings associated with the security services, as the uprising grows increasingly militarized. However, the rebel Free Syrian Army, one of the largest armed groups, denied reports that it had claimed responsibility for Saturday's blast.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which relies on activists inside Syria, said five people were killed in the blast at the carwash.
Aleppo activist Mohammed Saeed said the carwash in the city's southern Sukari neighborhood was owned by a man who serves in pro-government militias. He put the death toll at six.
It was impossible to independently verify the casualty toll or other activist claims because Assad's regime has prevented most media from working freely.
Military prosecutors ordered the detention of 300 protesters on accusations of attacking troops and disrupting public order during violent clashes outside Egypt's Defense Ministry in Cairo, a prosecution official said Saturday. The Friday clashes were some of the worst near the headquarters of the country's ruling generals. Egyptians head to the polls on May 23 to vote in a landmark presidential election to see who will head the country after the ouster of Hosni Mubarak last year.
Saudi diplomat returns: Saudi Arabian Ambassador Ahmed Qattan returned to Cairo on Saturday, a week after he was recalled following a wave of protests against the detention of Egyptian lawyer Ahmed el-Gezawi in Saudi Arabia.
Prominent human rights activist Nabeel Rajab, president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, has been arrested by Bahraini authorities, a statement from Bahrain's Interior Ministry said Saturday. The move could further escalate the nearly 15-month-old unrest between opposition groups and the rulers of the gulf kingdom. Rajab's group has been active in calling attention to alleged abuses by Bahraini security forces. Rajab also was affiliated with international groups such as Human Rights Watch.
New York-based Human Rights Watch urged the new government in Libya on Saturday to revoke a law that criminalizes glorifying the former dictator Moammar Gadhafi or spreading "propaganda" that insults or endangers the state. The law issued last week is one in a series of laws the National Transitional Council, Libya's interim rulers, has recently issued to deal with the legacy of Gadhafi. The law criminalizes spreading "false" news or "propaganda" that endangers the country's security or terrorizes people. Glorifying Gadhafi and his regime is considered such a crime, the new law says.
An independent commission charged with investigating abuses committed during the January 2011 uprising that ousted Tunisia's longtime dictator, President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, said Saturday that there were 338 people were killed and 2,147 injured. Previous estimates were of 300 dead and 700 wounded during the revolution.