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Unrest: Middle East and North Africa, country by country

By the CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) -- Demonstrations have spread across parts of the Middle East and North Africa. Here are the latest developments from each country, and information on the roots of the unrest.

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NEW DEVELOPMENTS

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LIBYA

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-- Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said Tuesday that "we are looking for countries" to give refuge to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi in an attempt to encourage him to leave Libya.

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-- A contact group has been formed to "provide leadership and overall political direction to the international effort" to deal with Libya, the British Foreign Office said Tuesday. Qatar has agreed to hold the first meeting of the group, which was created at the London Conference on Libya.

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-- Military action against Gadhafi will continue until he "ceases his attacks on civilians, pulls his troops back from places they have forcibly entered and allows key services and humanitarian assistance to reach all Libyans," U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton vowed Tuesday. The United Nations-backed bombing of Gadhafi's forces "prevented a potential massacre," she said. Clinton spoke in London after meeting with a leader of the Libyan opposition as the United States sought to expand ties with rebel leaders fighting to oust Gadhafi.

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-- A rebel declaration on the future of Libya makes no reference to religious freedom because Libya is "100% Muslim," a rebel spokesman asserted in London Tuesday. "It is a very homogenous society," said Guma El-Gamaty, a spokesman for the Interim National Council. Libya does in fact have a small non-Muslim minority of about 3.5% of the population, according to estimates by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life based on information from the World Religion Database.

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-- Libya's rebels have collected some weapons left behind by troops loyal to Moammar Gadhafi, but they have not been armed by any foreign countries, their representative in the United Kingdom said Tuesday.

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-- Libya's rebels plan to try members of the Moammar Gadhafi regime, not "hang people in the street," one of their representatives said in London Tuesday. "We are going to establish law and order," said Mahmoud Shammam, a spokesman for the Interim National Council. "We are not going to take revenge on the streets of Tripoli and Benghazi."

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-- Three loud explosions have been heard in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, according to CNN's Nic Robertson. It is still daylight and no anti-aircraft fire could be seen.

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YEMEN

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-- The death toll from an explosion Monday at an ammunition factory in southern Yemen has risen to 150, a government official and medical source said Tuesday. Eighty-five people were injured in the blast in Abyan Province, some critically, said the official, who asked not to be named out of fears for his safety. Eyewitnesses reported that about half of those killed were women and children.

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PREVIOUS DEVELOPMENTS

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LIBYA

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-- Libyan government tanks were shelling civilian areas in Misrata Tuesday and government forces were evicting thousands of residents and looting their homes, an opposition councilman in that city told CNN. Coalition planes circled overhead but did not strike the tanks, the source said. The source described "absolute and utter carnage," saying Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's forces were "advancing in all directions of the city." Opposition members were using schools and mosques to accommodate the evicted, he said.

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-- The men accused of raping Eman al-Obeidy have filed counter-charges against the woman for slander, a Libyan government spokesman said Tuesday. The spokesman, Moussa Ibrahim, said the investigation is ongoing into the case of al-Obeidy, who burst into a Tripoli hotel Saturday and told journalists staying there that she was raped by troops loyal to Gadhafi, a dramatic charge seen on TV across the globe.

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-- Clinton met with a leader of the Libyan opposition Tuesday as the United States looked to expand ties with rebel leaders fighting to oust Gadhafi. It was the second meeting in less than two weeks between Clinton and the Libyan Interim National Council's Mahmoud Jabril, a former head of Libya's economic planning council.

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-- The United States will send a liaison to the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi to open up a more direct line of communication with members of the opposition, a senior administration official told reporters Tuesday. The official did not say when that would happen.

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-- President Barack Obama Monday rejected criticism of his decision to commit U.S. forces to the U.N.-authorized military mission in Libya, telling the American people there were strategic and moral reasons to act. In a nationally televised speech at the National Defense University, Obama said his administration kept its pledge that the mission would be limited in size and scope, announcing that the NATO alliance would assume full command on Wednesday.

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-- Obama said that "tonight, I can report that we have stopped Gadhafi's deadly advance" and he explained that the United States will "support the aspirations of the Libyan people" as the "military effort ratchets down."

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-- "We have intervened to stop a massacre, and we will work with our allies and partners to maintain the safety of civilians. We will deny the regime arms, cut off its supplies of cash, assist the opposition and work with other nations to hasten the day when Gadhafi leaves power. It may not happen overnight, as a badly weakened Gadhafi tries desperately to hang on to power."

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Roots of unrest

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-- Protests in Libya started in February when demonstrators, fed up with delays, broke into a housing project the government was building and occupied it. Gadhafi's government, which has ruled since a 1969 coup, responded with a $24 billion fund for housing and development. A month later, more demonstrations were sparked when police detained relatives of those killed in an alleged 1996 massacre at the Abu Salim prison, according to Human Rights Watch. High unemployment and demands for freedom have also fueled the protests.

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YEMEN

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--At least 121 people died and 45 were wounded in an explosion at an ammunition factory in Yemen Monday, medical and security officials said. The dead and wounded were mainly locals who were ransacking the factory after it was taken over by militants Sunday, security officials said. The explosion took place in Abyan Province in southern Yemen.

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-- Seven Yemeni soldiers were killed and seven others were wounded Sunday when members of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula attacked them in Marib, two security officials said. The attack took place at a military checkpoint a mile north of the government complex in Marib province, east of the capital, Sanaa. Three "al Qaeda terrorists were killed" and six others were arrested in Lawdar district, Yemen's official news agency Saba reported Saturday.

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-- After the fighting Saturday, the Yemeni government said it was a sign that strong measures are needed to combat instability within the country.

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-- After accepting opposition demands for constitutional reforms and parliamentary elections by the end of the year, President Ali Abdullah Saleh said Sunday he will not offer any more concessions. Saleh told an Arab television network that he is "ready to step down with respect and dignity, even within a two hours' notice" but not to "gangs," "drug dealers" or "al-Houthi rebels."

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-- Saleh, speaking to Al Arabiya television Saturday, warned that some leadership factions in the opposition have a "foreign agenda."

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-- There were two rival demonstrations in Yemen Friday, one pro-government and the other anti-government. A human rights activist described the anti-government protest as huge and said a funeral prayer took place at the protest for two of the people who died last week during the violence in Sanaa.

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Roots of unrest

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-- Protesters have called for the ouster of Saleh, who has ruled Yemen since 1978. The country has been wracked by a Shiite Muslim uprising, a U.S.-aided crackdown on al Qaeda operatives and a looming shortage of water. High unemployment fuels much of the anger among a growing young population who have suffered from poverty. The protesters also cite government corruption and a lack of political freedom. Saleh has promised not to run for president in the next round of elections.

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SYRIA

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-- The Syrian government resigned Tuesday amid an unusual wave of unrest that has roiled the nation, state TV reported.

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-- The president plans to make "a very important speech" Wednesday, a government spokeswoman said. The speech will "reassure the Syrian people," the state-run SANA news agency has reported.

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-- Tens of thousands of Syrians poured onto the streets of Damascus to demonstrate in favor of the government.

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-- The pro-government rally Tuesday followed violent clashes between protesters and security forces in the cities of Daraa and Latakia in recent days.

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-- There were also pro-government rallies in the cities of Aleppo, Hama and Hasaka, the broadcaster said.

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Roots of unrest

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-- Opponents of the al-Assad government allege massive human rights abuses, and an emergency law has been in effect since 1963. Earlier in March, Syrian human rights attorney Haitham Maleh -- arrested in October 2009 during a government crackdown on lawyers and activists -- was freed, his son said. The move comes amid demands by many citizens for more economic prosperity, political freedom and civil liberty. Syria's discontent has been centered in Daraa, a southern city in the impoverished country's agricultural region, where security forces and anti-government protesters have sporadically clashed for nearly two weeks.

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JORDAN

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-- Prime Minister Marouf Bakhit Monday instructed security bodies as well as district governors to confront any attempt by anyone to violate the law and threaten safety and security of citizens, Petra, Jordan's official news agency, reported.

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-- The security forces, Bakhit said, will arrest anyone who tries to prevent people from expressing their views in a legal and peaceful manner and refer him to court, Petra reported.

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-- The government, he said, will stand firm against calls that threaten national unity, which is based on belonging and loyalty to the Hashemite leadership, noting the government will continue political reform and fight corruption.

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-- Human Rights Watch said Monday prosecutors should open an independent investigation into serious allegations of excessive use of force by security forces during protests on Friday in Amman. The investigation should include the security forces' failure to prevent violence by government supporters against protesters demanding reform.

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Roots of unrest

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-- Jordan's economy has been hit hard by the global economic downturn and rising commodity prices, and youth unemployment is high, as it is in Egypt. Officials close to the palace have told CNN that King Abdullah II is trying to turn a regional upheaval into an opportunity for reform. He swore in a new government following anti-government protests. The new government has a mandate for political reform and is headed by a former general, with opposition and media figures among its ranks.

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BAHRAIN

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-- Bahrain's parliament has accepted the resignation of 11 lawmakers of the opposition Wefaq party, the Bahrain News Agency said Tuesday. The 11 are among 18 Wefaq party members in the 40-member parliament. The parliament will vote later on whether to accept the resignation of the other seven members. The entire Wefaq party parliamentary bloc submitted their resignations when the protests in Bahrain turned deadly.

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-- Human Rights Watch said Tuesday that the Bahraini government should urgently investigate the killing of at least 18 people during violent crackdowns since protests began on February 14. "Most were killed by security forces using excessive force, namely crowd-control equipment at extremely close range and live gunfire" and "four government security officers were also killed, according to the Interior Ministry."

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Roots of Unrest

Protesters initially took to the streets of Manama to demand reform and the introduction of a constitutional monarchy. But some are now calling for the removal of the royal family, which has led the Persian Gulf state since the 18th century. Young members of the country's Shiite Muslim majority have staged protests in recent years to complain about discrimination, unemployment and corruption, issues they say the country's Sunni rulers have done little to address. The Bahrain Center for Human Rights said authorities launched a clampdown on dissent in 2010. It accused the government of torturing some human rights activists.

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EGYPT

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-- Voters in Egypt will elect members of parliament in September and cast ballots for president sometime after that, a member of the ruling military council said Monday. Gen. Mamdou Shahen said the elections would not be held under Egypt's emergency law, though he did not specify when the law would be lifted.

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-- Egypt's military rulers shortened the nationwide curfew. It now applies from 2 a.m. to 5 a.m..

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-- U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates was in Egypt March 23 for talks with officials and military leaders of the key U.S. ally. It was Gates' first visit to Egypt since President Hosni Mubarak was forced to step down.

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-- The visit followed a referendum March 19 in which voters overwhelmingly approved proposed constitutional amendments, paving the way for parliamentary elections in June.

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-- A report published last week by Amnesty International describes the mistreatment of 17 female demonstrators at the hands of the Egyptian military after a protest March 9. The group said the women were beaten, given electric shocks, subjected to strip searches, forced to submit to "virginity checks" and threatened with prostitution charges. An army major denies allegations of torture or virginity tests but confirms 17 women were arrested.

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-- Some activists, concerned citizens and politicians are calling for a protest against a new law that Egypt's ruling military council is poised to approve. The law could make protests a criminal offense punishable by jail time and large fines.

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Roots of unrest

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-- Complaints about police corruption and abuses were among the top grievances of demonstrators who forced President Hosni Mubarak from office. Demonstrators also were angry about Mubarak's 30-year rule, a lack of free elections and economic issues, such as high food prices, low wages and high unemployment. Since Mubarak's departure, several thousand people have protested in Cairo's Tahrir Square to urge Egypt's new rulers to implement promised reforms. They pressed Egypt's Supreme Council to end an emergency law and release political prisoners, among other things. They also demanded civilian representation in government.

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TUNISIA

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-- In two short months, this country has gone from decades of strict one-party rule to an explosion of more than 30 registered political parties.

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Roots of unrest

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-- The revolt was triggered when an unemployed college graduate set himself ablaze after police confiscated his fruit cart, cutting off his source of income. Protesters complained about high unemployment, corruption, rising prices and political repression. An interim government came to power after an uprising prompted autocratic President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali to leave the country January 14. Those demonstrations helped spark protests across North Africa and the Middle East.

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MOROCCO

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-- Moroccan Foreign Minister Taib Fassi Fihri held talks Thursday in New York with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the situation in the Arab world, particularly in the Maghreb region, the state-run MAP news agency reported.

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-- Fihri said Wednesday that proposed constitutional reforms will strengthen the separation of powers and will help a "new Morocco" emerge, MAP reported. He said the committee in charge of revising the constitution will submit its results for the king's approval in June, after which they will be put to a public vote.

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Roots of unrest

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-- Protesters are seeking, among other things, political reforms to limit the monarchy's power and have not accepted reforms proposed by King Mohammed VI that demonstrators say do not go far enough, according to Human Rights Watch. As uprisings swept the region, the king proposed the creation of an elected prime minister position to serve as the government's chief executive, promotion of human rights and gender equality and economic improvements.

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ELSEWHERE

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-- Sporadic demonstrations have erupted in recent weeks in other Middle Eastern and northern African nations, such as Algeria, Djibouti, Oman, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Sudan, and in the Palestinian territories.

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