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NATO strikes Libyan command centers

TRIPOLI, Libya — NATO widened its campaign to weaken Moammar Gadhafi's regime with airstrikes on desert command centers and sea patrols to intercept ships, the military alliance said Saturday, amid signs of public anger over fuel shortages in government-held areas.

In the coastal town of Zawiya, crowds apparently outraged by dwindling fuel supplies attacked a minibus carrying journalists on a state-supervised trip to Tunisia's border. The journalists — a Chinese and two Britons — were not harmed. But one man boarded the bus and approached the three reporters with a kitchen knife and two others brandished pistols. A plainclothes security agent fired into the air to drive back the mob, the journalists said.

NATO also came under increasing criticism that it is overstepping the U.N. Security Council's mandate. The Pan African Parliament, the legislative body of the African Union, plans an emergency session this week to discuss what it calls NATO's "military aggression."

Syria

Syrian security forces opened fire on a funeral procession for slain antigovernment protesters Saturday, killing five people and pushing the death toll in the two-month uprising to more than 900. Syria's death toll is second only to Libya's, where battles between Gadhafi's forces and his opponents have left possibly thousands dead since February.

During Egypt's 18-day revolt that toppled President Hosni Mubarak on Feb. 11, at least 846 Egyptians died. In Tunisia, an estimated 219 people were killed before President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali stepped down in January. A crackdown by authorities in Yemen has left more than 150 protesters dead. The number killed in Bahrain, Oman and other places shaken by unrest is far lower.

Yemen

Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh said Saturday he will sign a proposal by gulf Arab mediators for him to step down, but he condemned the deal as a "coup" and warned that al-Qaida will take control of the country.

Saleh has pledged before to sign the deal, only to back down at the last minute. An official statement said he would sign the deal today. It grants him immunity from prosecution if he leaves office within 30 days.

NATO strikes Libyan command centers 05/21/11 [Last modified: Saturday, May 21, 2011 10:24pm]

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