SANA, Yemen — Thousands of armed tribesmen clashed with government troops in the mountains Thursday, preparing to march into Yemen's capital to reinforce their brethren in nearly two weeks of fighting that has pushed the impoverished country to the brink of civil war. Artillery and gunbattles in Sana forced the closure of Yemen's main international airport, on the capital's outskirts. To the south, tribesmen attacked government forces in a second city, Taiz, highlighting how the Sana fighting threatens to flare around the highly fragmented nation, home to an active al-Qaida branch.
PAKISTAN: At least 72 people have been killed in two days of intense fighting between Pakistani security forces and hundreds of militants who crossed from Afghanistan into northwest Pakistan, officials said. At least 27 Pakistanis, including four civilians, were killed in the fighting as were 45 insurgents, local police officials said. The dead included two women, a child and a prayer leader in the town of Shaltalo.
SYRIA: Syrian troops pounded a central town with artillery and gunfire, renewing attacks in a restive area that has been largely cut off from outside contact for six days. At least 15 people were killed, bringing the total killed there to 72 since the onslaught began. What started as street demonstrations calling for reforms evolved into demands for President Bashar Assad's ouster in the face of the violent crackdown, especially in Syria's south and center, where the challenge to his family's 40-year-rule is seen as strongest.
IRAQ: Iraqi officials say nine people were killed in western Iraq in a series of explosions targeting a market as well as rescuers who arrived on the scene after the initial blasts. A police official and a hospital official in Ramadi, the capital of Iraq's Anbar province, said the blast Thursday night also injured 25 people. Another police official said two roadside bombs went off near the market and then a parked car bomb exploded when police arrived on the scene. Another bomb exploded near the hospital.
LIBYA: NATO blasted Tripoli with a series of airstrikes Thursday, hitting military vehicle and ammunition depots, a surface-to-air missile launcher and a fire control radar system. The airstrikes rained down hours after NATO and its partners said they would extend the Libyan mission for 90 more days in support of the rebels fighting Moammar Gadhafi's regime. In Washington, Republican members of the House set up a showdown over Libya by supporting a measure calling on Congress to disapprove of U.S. military involvement there. And also Thursday, alleged Libyan rape victim Iman al-Obaidi was deported from Qatar "against her will" and sent back to Libya, the office of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said. Obaidi burst into a Tripoli hotel where foreign journalists were staying in March, saying she had been repeatedly raped by militia members loyal to Gadhafi.
ISRAEL: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered security forces to act with "restraint but determination" to defend Israel if thousands of Arabs try to storm its northern borders next week. Facebook-organized Arab protesters are gearing up to rush Israel's border with Syria on Sunday.