Protests erupted in Tunisia after the interim government’s decision to allow people from Ben Ali’s former ruling party RCD to stand in election in July.
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Security forces used tear gas in several locations to try to disperse demonstrators, witnesses said.
Anti-government activists had promised demonstrations in Syria on Friday to air their grievances against the Bashar al-Assad government.
Tensions have been high as dozens of people have been killed recently in Daraa in the south and Latakia in the west — both centers of ferment.
Thousands of demonstrators from different villages and towns gathered near Daraa and marched toward Al Sanameen. They were 25,000 strong by the time they reached a military checkpoint just outside the city, witnesses said.
About 1,000 heavily armed troops at the checkpoint fired on demonstrators forcibly trying to cross the spot and enter Al Sanameen, witnesses said.
“Their blood is on my shirt and we are tending to the wounded as we speak,” a witness said. Ambulance sirens could be heard in the background during the witness’s phone call to CNN.
Demonstrators are staying at the checkpoint and demanding they be allowed into the city.
According to an eyewitness, the gunfire had stopped and protesters were trying to appeal to soldiers, chanting, “The people and the army are one hand.”
They also chanted, “With our bloods, our souls we will sacrifice for you, Daraa.”
One witness said security forces attacked thousands of protesters at the “big mosque” in the center of Douma with electric batons, tear gas and live ammunition.
“I have never in my life seen such violence: men shooting guns into an unarmed crowd without a thought,” said the eyewitness, who had been hurt in an electric-baton beating and taken to the hospital for a head injury.
Along with the six dead, he said, he saw dozens of wounded, many of whom were seriously injured.
Another Douma demonstrator claimed his son had been injured in the gunfire.
Haitham Maleh, a Syrian human rights lawyer recently freed from prison, said he spoke to rights activists who reported two deaths in Douma.
Witnesses said a mosque in Kafr Sousa, another Damascus suburb, had been surrounded by security forces who had fired rubber bullets, and Maleh said he was told about the unrest there.
“Hundreds are now trapped in Abdul Karim Rifai mosque in Kafr Sousa near Damascus,” he said. “They called me to say that more than 50 people were injured and taken away from the mosque to security headquarters after being brutally beaten in the street.”
CNN could not independently confirm the witness accounts, and it is not known whether the two people Maleh reported dead are among or in addition to the six the eyewitness reported.
The Syrian government has made no public comment about Friday’s events, though the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA), citing an official source, said armed groups in Douma fired on security forces and civilians, killing “several” people and injuring “dozens” of others. In Homs, a group shot into a crowd, killing a girl, SANA said.
Cable describing corruption in Algeria and the discontent of the People. As a short-term solution they have lowered sugar prices due to recent protests. Source indicates corruption goes all the way to the top, including Bouteflika and military general Ahmad Gaid Salah.