March 4 (Reuters) - Here are details of some of protests sweeping through the Middle East and North Africa on Friday.
- Forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi widen attacks on rebel-held areas in an escalation of the crisis, the bloodiest since a wave of protests began in Arab states.
- Gunmen open fire to break up dissident protests in the capital Tripoli, where demonstrators shout “Gaddafi is the enemy of God”.
- Eastern-based rebels press home their push to the west with an attack on the oil town of Ras Lanuf, claiming to have taken its airport. Rebels say they are open to talks only on Gaddafi’s resignation.
- In Zawiyah, about 50 km west of the capital, pro-Gaddafi forces fight for hours with rebels who have been holding the town centre.
- An oil facility at Zuetina south of the rebel-held city of Benghazi is aflame, according to Al Jazeera.
- Interpol issues global alert against Gaddafi and 15 members of his inner circle to help police around the world enforce U.N. travel bans and asset freezes.
- Foreign workers flee across border to Tunisia, where European countries mount airlift of Egyptian workers to Egypt. Austria widens an asset freeze.
— President Ali Abdullah Saleh rejects an opposition plan for him to transfer power by the end of this year.
— Crowds demonstrating against his rule swell into the hundreds of thousands. Protests in the capital Sanaa stretch for more than 2 km (a mile) in the streets around Sanaa university. Protesters chant “Oh God, please get rid of Ali Abdullah!”
— Shi’ite rebels accuse the army of firing rockets on a protest in Harf Sufyan in the north. The government says armed men fired at a military post their wounding four security men.
— Clerics sympathetic to the opposition join protesters for Friday prayers.
— Saleh supporters organise a counter-protest attended by tens of thousands of people.
— Protests held across Iraq by people angry at corruption, poverty and lack of jobs.
— Security forces use water cannon and batons to disperse demonstrators in Basra.
— Thousands rally in Mosul and Baghdad. Hundreds also demonstrate in Nassiriya, Garma and Faw. Vehicles are banned from the streets of Baghdad, Mosul, Sulaimaniya and Salahuddin province.
— Several people are hurt in fighting between Sunni and majority Shi’ite demonstrations, the first sectarian violence since protests erupted in the Sunni-ruled kingdom two weeks ago.
— About 100 people were involved in the clashes, triggered by a family dispute, a car accident or both, according to different accounts. Helicopters circle overhead and ambulances rush to the scene.
— Hundreds of Omanis demanding jobs and political reforms demonstrate across Oman, staging protests from the southern port of Salalah to the northern industrial town of Sohar.
— Protests in the normally quiet country follow demonstrations earlier this week in which medical sources said six people died.
— Sultan Qaboos bin Said tried to ease tensions on Sunday by promising 50,000 jobs, unemployment benefits of $390 a month and to study widening the power of the Shura Council.
— President Hosni Mubarak stepped down on Feb. 11 following 18 days of massive protests centred around Cairo’s Tahrir Square. Demonstrators have continued to stage protests to ensure the new military rulers carry out promises of reform.
— Egypt’s new prime minister-designate, Essam Sharaf, visits Tahrir Square on Friday, where he tells thousands of protesters that he will work to meet their demands, and salutes “martyrs” of the country’s revolution. Sharaf was appointed on Thursday to replace Ahmed Shafiq, a former air force officer named to the premiership by Mubarak before he stepped down.
— Egypt will hold a referendum on reforms to its constitution on March 19, the government says on its Facebook page on Friday, quoting the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.
— Tunisia’s interim prime minister says he will appoint a new government in two days, the third caretaker administration since the overthrow of veteran leader Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in January.
— “Our priority is to restore the prestige of the state,” says the interim prime minister, Beji Caid Sebsi, who was appointed after Mohammed Ghannouchi resigned on Sunday following protests over his close ties to Ben Ali.
Writing by Peter Graff; editing by Philippa Fletcher For an interactive factbox on protests in the Middle East and Africa, click on link.reuters.com/puk87r For Middle East unrest in graphics click here For full Reuters Africa coverage and to have your say on the top issues, visit: africa.reuters.com/