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February 22nd, 2011
06:45 PM ET

Americans slain by captors on hijacked yacht; pirates killed, arrested

CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) - A round-the-world boating adventure ended tragically Tuesday for four Americans, whom pirates fatally shot after capturing their yacht in the Indian Ocean last week, U.S. officials said.

The 58-foot vessel, named the Quest, was being shadowed by the military after pirates took the ship off the coast of Oman on Friday. Officials had said earlier Tuesday it was less than two days from the Somali coast.

Ship owners Jean and Scott Adam and Phyllis Macay and Bob Riggle were found shot after U.S. forces boarded the vessel about 1 a.m. ET, officials said.

The forces responded after a rocket-propelled grenade was fired at a U.S. Navy ship about 600 yards away - and missed - and the sound of gunfire could be heard on board the Quest, U.S. Navy Vice Admiral Mark Fox told reporters.

"Despite immediate steps to provide life-saving care, all four hostages ultimately died of their wounds," U.S. Central Command said.

The incident took place as negotiations involving the FBI were under way for the hostages' release, Fox said. Two pirates had boarded a U.S. Navy ship Monday for the negotiations, he said. He told reporters he had no information on details of the negotiations or whether a ransom had been offered.

Two pirates were found dead on board the Quest, he said. In the process of clearing the vessel, U.S. forces killed two others, one with a knife, Fox said. Thirteen others were captured and detained along with the other two already on board the U.S. Navy ship. Nineteen pirates were involved altogether, he said.

The Adams were from Marina del Rey, California, Fox said, and Macay and Riggle were from Seattle.

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Filed under: 360° Radar
February 22nd, 2011
04:15 PM ET

Unrest in the Middle East and North Africa - country by country

CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) - Two months ago, a Tunisian fruit vendor lit a match, starting a fire that has spread throughout the Arab world. Muhammad Bouazizi's self-immolation prompted anti-government protests that toppled the regime in Tunisia and then Egypt. The demonstrations have spread across a swath of the Middle East and North Africa. Here are the latest developments, including the roots of the unrest:

Tuesday's developments:

ALGERIA

Algeria's government declared an end to a nearly two-decade state of emergency Tuesday, its state news agency announced, lifting restrictions on freedom of speech and assembly imposed in 1992 to combat an Islamist insurgency. Critics say the insurgency has long since diminished, and the law remained only to muzzle critics of the government.

Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika announced this month that he would soon lift the emergency declaration, a move analysts said was aimed at getting ahead of a protest movement that has grown since January.

Roots of unrest:

Protests began in January over escalating food prices, high unemployment and housing issues. They started in Algiers, but spread to other cities as more people joined and demonstrators toppled regimes in Tunisia and later Egypt. Bouteflika announced that he would lift the state of emergency law in what analysts called an attempt to head off a similar revolt.

BAHRAIN

The Bahraini government urged people to embrace a national dialogue Tuesday as the country continues to experience anti-government protests that have swept through the Middle East.

The head of the country's largest opposition party, the Haq Movement, planned to arrive home Tuesday after the government announced that it was closing cases against several Shia leaders. Movement leader Hassan Mushaimaa, who has been living in exile, had previously been arrested for campaigning for more democratic rights in the island monarchy.

At the same time, more mass protests were planned, along with a funeral for one of the protesters shot last week.

Roots of unrest:

Protesters initially took to the streets of Manama last week 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 late 2010. It accused the government of torturing some human rights activists.

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Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow • Middle East
February 22nd, 2011
03:41 PM ET

Letters to the President: #764 'Libya coming unhinged'

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Reporter's Note: The American president is talking to his advisors about Libya. The Libyan president is talking too…but I’m not sure who, if anyone, is advising him.

Dear Mr. President,

Let me just start with a simple thank you. It is the same thank you that I should bestow upon every soul who has held the presidency since our nation’s birth. Thank you for not being a lunatic.

Oh sure, Richard Nixon gave us a scare for a while, and other chief executives have had their moments, but it’s been nothing compared to the wild, baffling, and sadly, dangerous, activities of Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi.

I’ve been following this man’s hijinks for a good many years now, and the best I can say about him is that, like a volcano, he has occasionally gone dormant for long periods of time. I don’t mean that he has done nothing, but that during those periods he has at least not been raining hell upon his own people at the rate he is now.

Have you watched these statements he has made? He’s never been a nominee for “Well Balanced Potentate of the Year,” but in these videos he seems genuinely unhinged - as if he exists on an utterly different planet than the rest of his countrymen. I suppose, in a way, he does. And his son seems proof that the nut doesn’t fall far from the tree, what with his whole “river of blood” talk about a possible civil war.

Then he says, “Oh, btw, we’re ready to talk with the opposition about freedom.” Or something like that. Call me crazy, but if I were negotiating something even as simple as the price of a new car I would be pretty wary of sitting down with someone who suggested torrents of blood would fill the street if the deal didn’t go his way. Just saying.
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February 22nd, 2011
01:15 PM ET

As protest march unfolds, Bahrain urges 'national dialogue'

CNN Wire Staff

Manama, Bahrain (CNN) - A crush of protesters covered the streets of Bahrain's capital Tuesday in an anti-regime protest.

Tens of thousands of people marched in the biggest anti-government rally since the public disturbances in the island nation erupted last week, and chants of "No Shia, No Sunni, only Bahraini" and "The regime must go" rang through the multitudes tramping across the center of Manama.

The turnout was led by ambulance workers involved in rescuing some of those injured in the assault by security forces last Thursday on the Pearl Roundabout, which has been the epicenter of the Shiite-dominated protest movement.

The rally - which comes after thousands of people attended a funeral for a protester slain last week - was a massive display of popular scorn toward an embattled government working to forge stability. But it unfolded amid major gestures by the kingdom.

King Hamad touted a "national dialogue" and urged Bahrainis "to engage in this new process" and "move away from polarization," a government statement said Tuesday.

The king has held meetings with opposition members, community leaders and businesspeople "from all sections of society" to pave the way for a formalized dialogue process.

"The national dialogue is aimed at bringing to everyone in Bahrain the opportunity to contribute to Bahrain's future path of reform," the statement said.

The kingdom also ordered the release of a number of prisoners and closed cases against several Shiite leaders accused of plotting against the kingdom, the country's state news agency reported Tuesday.

That cleared the way for Hassan Mushaimaa, leader of Bahrain's largest opposition party, the Haq Movement, to return to the country from London. His aides said he was expected in Bahrain later Tuesday.

Full story


Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow • Middle East
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