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Libya (and Beyond) LiveBlog: Any Advance?

1800 GMT: My thanks to EA's Ali Yenidunya for covering the LiveBlog while I am in Manchester in northwest Britain. We are going to take an evening break and return early on Sunday.

1630 GMT: Algerian police and pro-government activists foiled a sixth attempt by opposition protesters to march in the capital Algiers.

1620 GMT: According to the Al Watan daily, at least 8 killed and more than 20 wounded in clashes between rebels and loyalists at Ras Lanuf.

1610 GMT: It is reported that Libyan revolutionaries shot down two helicopters in Ras Lanuf & Ben Jwad.

1600 GMT: An activist quotes a Zawiya resident saying that Qaddafi tanks are everywhere, and attacking houses.

1550 GMT: A state security building on the outskirts of the Egyptian capital was set alight.

On its official Facebook page, the Cabinet said the Ministry of Interior is currently conducting an urgent study to restructure the state security apparatus. 

1545 GMT: Algeria’s main opposition party, the Socialist Forces Front (FFS), has held its first organised rally in seven years, with 3,000 people gathering  to demand wide-scale political reforms.

1540 GMT: The Washington Post says: "Protesters in Jordan ratchet up demands but stop short of urging king's ouster."

1530 GMT: Head of the Foreign Relations Office Bahrain Center for Human Rights, Maryam Alkhawaja, says: that some youth were planning to pray in AlFateh mosque, Sunni and Shiaa, after the human chain, but the mosque is locked.

1520 GMT: Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh reiterated that he would remain in power until his term ends in 2013.

1510 GMT: Deputy Sports Minister of Yemen resigns and joins opposition.

1500 GMT: CNN's Mohammed Jamjoom reports that Saudi government downplays Eastern Province demonstrations. Government official says "protests ... were small and were not political in nature."

1450 GMT: Fieldproducer Alex Crawford (Sky News) reports tanks firing in Zawiyah and seeing a number of civilian casualties including a 10 year old boy "peppered" with bullets.

1445 GMT: Libyan tanks enter Zawiya and fire on residents.

Youssef Shagan, the revolutionary force spokesman in Zawiyah, said: "They entered Zawiyah at six in the morning with heavy forces, hundreds of soldiers with tanks. Our people fought back ... We have won for now and civilians are gathering in the square."

1440 GMT: A defender from the battle in Zawiya.

1430 GMT: Big "human chain" demo in Manama from Pearl Roundabout to Al Fateh Mosque.

1415 GMT: Human chain linking Lulu to Al Fateh Mosque.

1400 GMT: Protestors outside the state security building n Nasr city.

1355 GMT: An activist reports that approximately 300 activists are out in front of state security building in Nasr city.

1345 GMT: Eyewitnesses said that some state security officers had burned important documents inside the state security headquarters in 6th October city.

1335 GMT: A doctors says that at least 30 people, mostly civilians, have been killed during fighting in Zawiyah today.

1330 GMT: The Egyptian military appears to have taken control of the State Security Headquarters in the 6 October section of Cairo.

1320 GMT: The death toll from yesterday's explosion at a weapons depot near Benghazi has risen to 24 according to the Yosberides newspaper.

1308 GMT: State TV reports that Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Interior has forbidden all demonstrations and marches and says that security forces will take all measures to prevent attempts to disturb order.

1305 GMT: A report claims that Ali bin Majid Al Ma'amari, the Minister overseeing Oman's security apparatus, has been removed from office.

1300 GMT: The Qatari paper The Peninsula, in a striking article, details the limits on journalists within the country, "A Crippled Fourth Estate".

1250 GMT: In Algeria, protesters have tried again to support rallies called by the National Coordination for Change and Democracy.

There was a less substantial police presence in Algiers, but several journalists were arrested and later released in Oran. Said Saadi, the head of the opposition Rally for Culture and Democracy, claims he was cut by a knife as he was accosted and insulted by a pro-regime group.

1245 GMT: Reports claim that the Egyptian Army has arrived to prevent clashes as protesters gather outside the State Security Headquarters in the 6 October section of Cairo.

1240 GMT: Libyan State TV has accused the Netherlands of spying, following the capture on Sunday of a Dutch navy helicopter and its three-member crew.

The helicopter was trying to evacuate Dutch nationals, but Libya claims the mission was to drop or pick up spies.

1235 GMT: Human Rights Watch has claimed that Sudanese national security officials subjected large numbers of youth protesters to severe physical and sexual abuse amidst protests in January and February. The organisation said the students and youth, some as young as 18, endured harsh beatings, electric shocks, and other abuses that amount to torture. HRW claimed Security officials were implicated in the rape of a female youth activist in February.

(See EA's feature, "Protesters' Stories --- Abuse, Torture, and Death".)

1225 GMT: Al Arabiya have just reported that protestors, occupying the State Security Headquarters in Alexandria, saw offical documents confirming plans to attack Coptic Christian churches.

On 1 January, a bomb outside the Al-Qiddissine Church in Alexandria killed at least 23 people.

1220 GMT: Al Jazeera reports inter-tribal fighting in Sirte, a regime stronghold and Muammar Qaddafi's birthplace, which was sparked by one tribe refusing to support regime fighters in Ras Lanuf yesterday.

1215 GMT: An Egyptian journalist and activist reports that protesters will try to storm the State Security Headquarters in the Nasr City section of Cairo today at 4 p.m. (1400 GMT).

The situation this afternoon in front of the State Security Headquarters in the 6 October section of Cairo:

1155 GMT: Egyptian newspaper sources are reporting that the State Security apparatus, beset by protests and last night's occupation in Alexandria, has been suspended until it is reformed.

1100 GMT: The opposition in Zawiyah says regime battalions are sending reinforcements to the effort to capture the town.

1020 GMT: An opposition fighter runs for cover during Friday's battle for Ras Lanuf in north-central Libya:

1015 GMT: In Egypt, former Minister of Interior Habib El Adly has appeared in court to face charges of corruption.

The hearing was adjourned after El Adly pleaded not guilty to accusation of money laundering and unlawful acquisition of public money.

"It didn't happen," he said twice in a calm tone.

El Adly is widely reported to have given the order to use live ammunition on protesters during the uprising against the Mubarak regime, days before he was forced to resign.

1010 GMT: A photograph from last night's takeover of the State Security Headquarters in Alexandria by protesters, claiming that security forces were destroying papers.

1000 GMT: Back from a break to find the latest in Libya....

A resident of Zawiyah, the front-line of conflict only 55 km (35 miles) west of Tripoli, gave this important report to the BBC about 0920 GMT:


There was heavy fighting until about 10 minutes ago. But Zawiya was never falling to Qaddafi's troops. Let me repeat: It was never falling to Qaddafi's troops. They came from the east and west, and they took up positions in high-rise buildings...and started shooting. Some tanks went to the main square and were captured and burnt. There are some casualties among Qaddafi's troops and our troops - but Zawiya was never captured.


[The government forces] were trying to take the square. They knew if they could take the square Zawiya would fall. But they could not. I am outside the square. Gaddafi's troops are nowhere to be seen. They have all fled. Some lost their vehicles so they had to walk from one street to another, hiding in buildings. But the rebels got them, some were killed, some captured.

The fighting was all around us. But right now the fighting is over. It has stopped. It started at 0600 local time (0400 GMT), and finished before 1100 (0900 GMT) -- that's how long it took. I assume the pro-Gaddafi forces are now on the outskirts of the city --- perhaps 5 miles in each direction.


Media are confirming the news, which we reported last night and repeated this morning, that Ras Lanuf has fallen to the opposition. The oil port is 660 km (410 miles) east of Tripoli and 140 km (87 miles) east of the regime stronghold of Sirte, Muammar Qaddafi's hometown.

The opposition has confirmed it lost 13 members in an explosion on Friday at an ammunition depot outside Benghazi.

0820 GMT: More conflicting reports over Zawiyah, with residents claiming in calls to Al Jazeera that regime forces have retreated, leaving behind dead and captured troops and destroyed tanks.

0722 GMT: In an emotional phone call, a resident of Zawiyah describes regime tanks shelling buildings as they close in on Martyrs' Square, where it appears the opposition is making a last stand.

0714 GMT: Lara Setrakian of American ABC News is claiming from "security sources" that the regime, using live ammunition and air strikes, killed dozens of protesters in Tripoli on Friday.

0712 GMT: The Associated Press and Al Jazeera are reporting that Qaddafi forces have broken through in Zawiyah and taken the city from the opposition. There are few details beyond references to further clashes and casualties, including the regime's use of tanks.

0655 GMT: The heaviest day of fighting in Libya in a week ended in confusion and questions over outcomes.

More than 30 people were killed in Zawiyah, the opposition-held city only 55 km (35 miles) west of Tripoli. In an attempt to show that it was striking back in its heartland, Qaddafi forces launched an all-day assault both east of west of the city. There was clear evidence of the toll exacted on the resistance, but it appeared last night that the regime troops had been unable to assert control. Electricity was cut in what appeared to be another attempt to force out the opposition.

In Ras Lanuf, the oil port in north-central Libya, there were still competing claims over who had won the day's battle, but there were stronger indications last night that the opposition had taken the city. If so, that is a further western advance along the Mediterranean coast.

Yet even these battles had to share in the evening with developments --- and another muddled idea of "advance" --- in Egypt. The day had begun with another mass rally in Tahrir Square in Cairo, culminating in thespeech of the new Prime Minister, Essam Sharaf. The appearance of Sharaf, who is being positioned as a "technocrat" in contrast to politicians of the Mubarak regime including his predecessor Ahmad Shafiq, was generally well-received as a sign of new possibilities and politics.

Last night, however, all the attention was on Alexandria, the second city, where protesters surrounded and then took over the ground floor of the State Security Headquarters. The demonstration started amidst claims that security forces were shredding documents to destroy evidence, in the prosecutions that are likely to come, of wrong-doing and abuses. It then led to reports of Molotov cocktails and gunfire from the forces in the building, as they unsuccesfully tried to disperse the demonstrators. And by late evening, the crowd was inside the headquarters amidst the shredded testimony to their concerns.

Elsewhere, there was another Friday of protests, though not as large and significant in impact as the previous week, in Bahrain, Yemen, Oman and Iraq. Tunisia, after a week of political turmoil and demonstrations, was much quieter.

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