Babylon & Beyond

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UNITED STATES: Obama 'deeply concerned' by violence against Mideast protesters

February 18, 2011 | 10:27 am

The new White House press secretary told journalists aboard Air Force One on Friday that President Obama is "deeply concerned" by reports of violence against peaceful demonstrators in the Middle East.

"I am deeply concerned by reports of violence in Bahrain, Libya and Yemen. The United States condemns the use of violence against peaceful protesters in those countries, and wherever else it may occur," the president said in a statement read by Press Secretary Jay Carney.

Obama said people everywhere "have certain universal rights, including the right to peaceful assembly."

"The United States urges the governments of Bahrain, Libya and Yemen to show restraint in responding to peaceful protests and to respect the rights of their people," the president said.

Mounting protests against long-reigning regimes in the three Mideast nations have turned violent in recent days. A hand grenade thrown into a crowd of Yemeni demonstrators on Friday killed one and injured dozens, and the death toll from clashes in Libya over the last two days was reported to be as high as 50. In Bahrain, where at least four were killed Thursday when government troops cleared protesters from central Pearl Square, guns and tear gas were used by security forces on Friday when marchers approached the focal point of this week's sectarian demonstrations.

-- Carol J. Williams