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Unrest: Middle East and North Africa, country by country

By the CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) -- Unrest: Middle East and North Africa, country by country

Countries in the Middle East and North Africa have been swept up in protests against longtime rulers since the January revolt that ousted Tunisian strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. In many cases, these demonstrations and movements have been met with brute force and escalated into seemingly unending violence. Here are the latest developments from each country and information on the roots of the unrest.

SYRIA

-- Syrian security forces determined to quell a three-month uprising stormed the northern village of Badama, near the Turkish border, a witness and an activist said Saturday. Units entered the village equipped with at least six tanks, 21 armed personnel carriers, 10 security buses and randomly fired at houses, the Syrian activist said, adding that security forces also closed the road to the village of Khirbet Aljooz.

-- Violence in Syria and an offensive in and around the town of Jisr al-Shugur has spurred thousands of people to make their way to the border region, and Turkish officials are worried that the crisis could deteriorate and destabilize the area. About 3,000 more Syrians were on the border near Badama.

-- Actress Angelina Jolie met with Syrian refugees in Turkey on Friday and drew attention to the anguish faced by families -- and families torn apart -- by the violence in Syria. More than 9,600 refugees are living in four camps managed by Turkey and the Turkish Red Crescent, according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

-- The British government Saturday advised its citizens to leave Syria immediately and not travel there.

Roots of unrest

More than 1,100 people may have died since the unrest began in mid-March after teens were arrested for writing anti-government graffiti in Daraa, according to Amnesty International. As the crackdown intensified, demonstrators changed their demands from calls for "freedom," "dignity" and an end to abuses by the security forces to calls for the regime's overthrow. On April 19, Syria's cabinet lifted an emergency law, which had been in effect since 1963. But security forces then moved quickly to crack down. Government opponents allege massive human rights abuses.

LIBYA

-- Representatives from the African Union, European Union, League of Arab States, Organization of the Islamic Conference and United Nations -- including Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon -- participated in a third high-level meeting Saturday on the situation in Libya. In a U.N. statement, Ban described finding a political solution to the Libya crisis as "the United Nations' top priority." He said "the beginnings of a negotiation process are now underway," spearheaded by U.N. special envoy Abdul-Elah Al-Khatib, though he stressed that no peace agreement was imminent.

-- NATO on Saturday admitted to mistakenly hitting vehicles belonging to the Libyan opposition two days earlier in al-Brega. In a statement, the military alliance called the incident "unfortunate." For several months, NATO airstrikes have targeted forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi, who have been opposed by fighters aiming for independence, officially in an effort to prevent civilian casualties.

-- Ban, the U.N. leader, voiced "strong concerns" Saturday about the violence and humanitarian situation in Libya. He said there were shortages of food and fuel, a reported measles outbreak in Sabha, as well as increasingly limited access to water and medical care. "The U.N.'s humanitarian efforts are taking place under extremely difficult circumstances," Ban said.

-- As NATO airstrikes continued pounding Libya, the north African nation's prime minister said civilian buildings were hit and that the Western alliance should face justice for its actions. Al-Baghdadi Ali al-Mahmudi told reporters that a university, government administrative buildings and villages outside Tripoli were bombed and that civilians had died. "It is proof of the inhumanity of NATO coalition," he said, referring to a Libyan television report on a bus that was hit. "NATO officials should be taken to court to stand trial for these crimes," he said.

-- NATO said Saturday its planes had struck two military vehicle storage facilities in the Tripoli area and several other military targets.

-- Al-Mahmudi denied rebel allegations of rape and torture by Libyan soldiers. He accused the rebels of lying despite cell phone videos that appear to show a woman being raped. CNN obtained the video from a person who said it was a video on a cell phone that was confiscated from a Gadhafi loyalist but CNN could not verify the authenticity of the video. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the United States was "deeply concerned" over the reports of wide-scale rape in Libya and called for an investigation.

Roots of unrest

Protests in Libya started in February when demonstrators, fed up with delays, broke into a housing project the government was building and occupied it. They quickly gained velocity and strength and the movement to oust Gadhafi after more than four decades in power exploded in war. NATO began conducting airstrikes in March after a United Nations Security Council mandate to protect civilians.

BAHRAIN

-- A Sunni "National Unity Assembly" demonstration planned for Saturday afternoon was cancelled. The cancellation follows a large demonstration in the tens of thousands by the main opposition group Al Wefaq on Friday.

-- The justice ministry issued a statement saying steps are underway to reopen the secular Waad political party, closed down in earlier this year and its leader, Ibrahim Sharif, jailed.

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.

MOROCCO

-- King Mohammed VI announced reforms that will boost the power of the prime minister and take away some of his own but some protesters said Saturday that changes are not enough. They have called for a peaceful demonstration Sunday to push for more changes. In a televised address Friday, the king said Morocco's revamped draft constitution will make officials more accountable, the parliament in Rabat more dynamic and will give the government greater powers.

Roots of unrest

Protesters are seeking, among other things, political reforms to curb the power of the centuries-old monarchy. Like other nations in the region, Morocco is grappling with economic woes, including high unemployment.

 
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