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Bahrain, Libya, Syria (and Beyond) LiveBlog: Protest Re-Appears

Pearl Roundabout, Bahrain1955 GMT: Last week we reported on the alleged abduction of dual American-Syrian national Amina Arraf, the author of the blog "A Gay Girl in Damascus". Doubts soon surfaced, however, not only over the kidnapping but whether Arraf was real.

This evening, Tom McMaster, who lives in Turkey, has posted an apology, admitting that he is "Amina": "While the narrative voıce may have been fictional, the facts on thıs blog are true and not mısleading as to the situation on the ground. I do not believe that I have harmed anyone -- I feel that I have created an important voice for issues that I feel strongly about."

1450 GMT: A Yemeni security official said a colonel and two soldiers were killed in clashes with insurgents in the city of Zinjibar in the south on Sunday. Two insurgents were also slain.

1410 GMT: Insurgents claim 10 regime forces and 15 opposition fighters have been slain in fighting in Zawiya, west of Tripoli.

Hospital sources say two people have been killed and 13 injured heavy fighting 15 kilometres east of Brega in north-central Libya.

1000 GMT: According to Bahrain's state news agency, poet Ayat al-Qurmezi has been sentenced to one year in prison for reciting poems critical of the regime.

Al-Qurmezi is the first woman to be sentenced by the special emergency tribunal set up amidst pro-reform protests.

Al-Qurmezi was formally convicted of inciting hatred after she publicly read her work which criticised Bahrain's King and Prime Minister.

Reports indicate two MPs of the opposition party Wefaq, Mattar Ibrahim Mattar and Jawad Fairooz, have been summoned to trial suddenly and unexpectedly, after a month in detention. They are chargd with talking to media --- Matter had spoken on-air to Al Jazeera English just before his arrest --- organising unofficial demonstrns, and trying to overthrow the regime.

0815 GMT: The Libyan opposition claims El-Khouwildy el-Ahmeildy, a senior aide to Muammar Qaddafi, has been wounded in a NATO airstrike during the fighting for Zawiya, 50 kilometres (30 miles) west of Tripoli.

Ahmed Bani said from the opposition centre of Benghazi that "el-Ahmeildy is being treated in a hospital". He claimed el-Ahmeildy is a member of Qaddafi's Council of the Leaders of the Revolution and his daughter is married to one of Qaddafi's sons.

0750 GMT: The Bahraini regime says that a committee considering dismissals of workers has recommended that 571 employees be reinstated, given the lack of justification for their firings.

The committee has been directed to speed up scrutiny of all remaining cases and submit a report.

Thousands of employees have allegedly been dismissed on political grounds since protests against the regime began on 14 February.

0705 GMT: In Syria, the regime's assault continues on Jisr al-Shughour in the northwest near the Turkish border. Reports indicate about 5000 residents have fled into Turkey, and thousands more are sheltering among trees near the town.

0700 GMT: Saturday was filled with reports of fighting across western Libya, from Zliten beyond Misurata to Zawiya west of Tripoli to the towns in the western mountains.

While confirmation is hard to obtain on the state of combat, the general picture is of an insurgent advance. The most striking report is that the opposition has re-taken Zawiya, 50 kilometres (30 miles) west of the capital. The insurgents had been driven out of the town in March.

A report from Al Jazeera English on the regime siege of Yafran in the western mountains:

0555 GMT: We begin in Bahrain, where thousands --- the opposition said more than 10,000; the Ministry of Interior claimed only 4000 --- openly marched for the first time in months without resistance from security forces.

The rally in the northwest section of the capital Manama was organised by the opposition party Wefaq, which called for a peaceful show of unity by Sunnis and Shi'a to press demands for reform and justice.

The monarchy, after months of cracking down on dissent, permitted the rally amidst a move in its strategy to a call by the King for "national dialogue". On Saturday, the regime appointed the Speaker of Parliament to head talks, but the opposition called for Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa to lead the regime's team. 

There was also a clear sign of limits on protest. Barbed wire and armoured vehicles guarded Pearl Roundabout, the symbolic centre of the uprising which began on 14 February. The protest camp at the roundabout was overrrun after military units from Gulf Co-operation Council countries such as Saudi Arabia gave support to Bahrain's security forces, and the distinctive Pearl Monument in the centre was destroyed.

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