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Mali (and Beyond) Live Coverage: A Suicide Bombing in Timbuktu

See also Syria Live Coverage: Getting the Story Wrong on US Intervention

1516 GMT: Egypt. Prosecutors have released political satirist and TV host Bassem Youssef on LE15,000 ($2,142) bail after hours of questioning.

Youssef is accused of insulting President Morsi and denigrating Islam on his TV show.

1509 GMT: Mali. At least three Malian soldiers have been injured in fighting today in Timbuktu, a day after insurgents killed two troops and injured another in attacks including a suicide bombing (see 0853 GMT).

A military spokesman said, "The fighting is heavy and it is ongoing. We are in the process of encircling them."

1439 GMT: Egypt. Tracy McVeigh, writing for The Observer, profiles the situation of women two years after the fall of the Mubarak regime:

In post-Arab spring Egypt the revolution continues. But it's women of all classes who have found themselves most alienated – written out of the jostling for power and subjected to a skyrocketing number of sex assaults, rapes and harassment.

Women who stood shoulder to shoulder with men during the 2011 Tahrir Square protests that brought down Hosni Mubarak found their position in society undermined almost immediately. The parliamentary quota for women was removed without debate and a promised female vice-president failed to materialise, amid what political commentator Moushira Khattab called "a radical anti-feminist sentiment". Morsi threatened but stopped short of decriminalising Egypt's practice of female genital mutilation, carried out on almost three-quarters of Egyptian girls, making it clear he would not tackle an issue he called "a family matter".

The new constitution has swept away recognition of women's rights and left the door open to the legalisation of perhaps Egypt's most crippling social issue – underage marriage. Draft legislation that would allow the legal age of marriage to be lowered from 18 to 13 has been drawn up while clerics within the Muslim Brotherhood have indicated that marriage at the age of nine for girls is acceptable.

1139 GMT: Egypt. H.A. Hellyer profiles political satirist Bassem Youssef, arrested for insulting President Morsi (see 1129 GMT):

Almost a year ago, Egyptians went to the polls for their first free presidential election -- the first round delivered what was a nightmare of a result. A representative of the former regime, Ahmad Shafiq, which did nothing but signify a return to the status quo that existed during Hosni Mubarak – and a representative of the Muslim Brotherhood, an organisation that had shown little commitment to the Egyptian revolution, save as an opportunity to gain power. The day those results came out, I was in Bassem's office. Many of his team were simply stunned at the result. Bassem, on the other hand, just expressed slight surprise -- at all of us. As far as he was concerned, the result just meant one thing -- that they'd have a lot of material for political satire. And the revolution would go on.

That’s Bassem.

1129 GMT: Egypt. Political satirist and TV host Bassem Youssef, accused of insulting President Morsi and denigrating Islam, has appeared at the High Court to answer the arrest warrant.

Youssef turned up at the court wearing an outsized version of the hat worn by President Morsi when he received an honorary doctorate from a university in Pakistan in early March.

Speaking on Saturday night, Youssef said:


We are not the ones who insult religion, all we do is expose the channels that have misused religion and harmed it more than anyone else. If there is anyone who has insulted religion it is those who use Islam as a weapon for political reasons.

Youssef said he is determined to defy those who “have disfigured my religion [of Islam]”.

Youssef is accused over comments made on his weekly satire show El-Bernameg (The Show) on private satellite channel CBC.

0913 GMT: Jordan. King Abdullah has sworn in a new government, asked with pushing through austerity measures required under a loan agreement with the International Monetary Fund.

The Cabinet was confirmed on Saturday after nearly three weeks of consultations led by Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour, reappointed on 9 March after the king canvassed members of Parliament.

King Abdullah has previously hand-picked his Prime Ministers without consulting MPs.

The Cabinet announced on Saturday was the smallest in four decades, with 18 ministers.

The former head of the Central Bank, Umayya Toukan, was named Minister of Finance to press ahead with austerity measures, sought by the IMF in return for a $2 billion loan.

The IMF pushed the kingdom to reduce subsidies on fuel last November, leading to price rises and several days of civil unrest.

Officialas have said electricity tariffs will increase in June.

Jordan's financial crisis has been deepened by a drop in Gulf aid, which traditionally tops up the country's finances, and the economy has been strained by more than 400,000 Syrian refugees.

0853 GMT: Mali. A suicide bomber detonated his explosives in Timbuktu on Saturday, wounding a Malian soldier at an army barricade at the entrance to the city.

Earlier Saturday, a land mine explosion killed two Malian soldiers in the Gao region, to the east of Timbuktu.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attacks.

French and Malian forces pushed insurgents, who had held northern towns and cities for almost a year, out of their positions in February. However, clashes have continued in mountains near the Algerian border, and the insurgency has launched periodic attacks in urban areas.

Meanwhile, as France prepares to withdraw its 4000 troops, the first of four Malian battalions will begin training with European instructors on 2 April. After 10 weeks of training, the first 670 Malians are expected to be deployed to the north, where French and Chadian troops are currently positioned.

The French intend to hand over to an African force of 6,300 in the near-future. However, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said last week that up to 11,200 troops are needed as a "parallel" force.

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