By Andria Cheng
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — Reports of protests and violence in the Mideast continued over the weekend as demonstrators reportedly burned cars and barricaded themselves with barbed wire in Cairo’s central Tahrir Square.
The protesters in Cairo sought the resignation of the military’s chief on Saturday hours after troops violently cracked down on a protest there, killing at least one and injuring 71, the Associated Press reported.
Violent protests in Syria
Amateur video shows thousands of protesters in the southern city of Deraa. Syrian security forces fired live ammunition to disperse the demonstrators. Video courtesy of Reuters.
The violent crackdown came after an estimated 100,000 protesters gathered in Tahrir Square after midday prayers to stage a day-long peaceful demonstration demanding that ousted president Hosni Mubarak and members of his former government be put on trial and held accountable for repressing and looting the country, the Washington Post reported.
Reuters reported Libya’s leader, Col. Moammar Gadhafi, made his first television appearance in five days on Saturday while his troops shelled the western outskirts of Ajdabiyah, the launch point for rebel attacks toward the Mediterranean oil port of Brega. On TV, the Libyan leader looked confident and relaxed, suggesting that his administration is hunkering down for a long campaign, Reuters reported. The insurrection seeking to oust Gadhafi after 41 years of ironclad rule has gone back and forth as a coalition of allies under NATO command enforce a no-fly zone and a shipping embargo on weapons.
New violence in Syria, Yemen
Separately, The Wall Street Journal reported the Obama administration and the Libyan rebels are wrestling for control of $34 billion in Gadhafi’s assets that the Treasury Department has seized.
In other violence and protests from the region, dozens of communities in Syria on Friday joined in what activists claimed were by far the largest and bloodiest demonstrations against the rule of President Bashar al-Assad, the New York Times reported.
A Syrian rights group said at least 37 people were killed across the country on Friday, Reuters reported. in one incident, Syrian security forces opened fire on mourners near a mosque in the flashpoint city of Deraa after a mass funeral for pro-democracy protesters, the wire service reported, citing two witness accounts on Saturday.
In Yemen, the country recalled its ambassador to Qatar on Saturday because it was upset over its fellow Arabian Peninsula nation’s suggestion that Yemen’s leader resign as hundreds of thousands of Yemeni protesters rallied for a second straight day to demand the ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, the AP reported.
The deaths of four protesters Friday in the southern city of Taiz formed a rallying cry across the country, the AP reported.
About 100,000 people marched Saturday in Taiz, blaming the local governor, chief of security and leader of the ruling party for the violence after about 400 people were injured in the earlier protests, the wire service reported, adding more than 120 people have been killed since Feb. 11 in protests inspired by popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt.
Andria Cheng is a MarketWatch reporter based in New York.