Hundreds of Christians and Muslims hurl stones at each other in downtown Cairo, hours after Muslim mobs set fire to a church and a Christian-owned apartment building in a frenzy of violence that kills 12 people and injures more than 200. The deepening religious violence in military-ruled Egypt is exacerbating the lawlessness and disorder of the country’s bumpy transition to democracy after three decades of autocratic rule under former President Hosni Mubarak. Muslim youths attack a large crowd of Coptic Christian protesters marching to the state television building overlooking the Nile. TV images show both sides furiously throwing stones, including one Christian who was holding a large wooden cross in one hand while flinging rocks with the other.
Gunfire and shelling rattles a city in central Syria, killing a 12-year-old boy, as President Bashar Assad’s harsh regime expands its crackdown on a seven-week uprising by sending tanks and reinforcements to key areas. Authorities arrest a 10-year-old boy, apparently to punish his parents, and file charges against a leading opposition figure who is suffering from cancer. The continued crackdown suggests that Assad’s regime is determined to end the uprising by force and intimidation.
Shortages of basic supplies are making life in Libya difficult for residents, with long lines at gas stations and some shops closed, a result of more than two months of clashes between forces loyal to ruler Moammar Gadhafi and rebels. Hardest hit is the besieged city of Misrata, the only city near the capital of Tripoli still under at least partial rebel control.
Yemeni security forces backed by army units open fire on protesters demanding the ouster of longtime president Ali Abdullah Saleh, killing three. In all, tens of thousands of protesters mobilize in several cities and towns, the latest installment of almost three months of daily protests. One protester is killed in the western port of Hodeida, and two are killed in the southern city of Taiz when elite Republican Guard forces tried to disperse protesters by firing in the air.
Bahrain’s king sets a fast-track timetable to end martial law-style rule in a bid to display confidence that authorities have smothered a pro-reform uprising, even as rights groups denounce the measures. The announcement to lift emergency rule two weeks early on June 1 comes hours after the start of a closed-door trial accusing activists of plotting to overthrow the Gulf state’s rulers. The decision appears part of Bahrain’s aggressive international campaign to reassure financial markets and win back high-profile events. They include the coveted Formula One grand prix that was canceled in March after deadly clashes and protests by the country’s majority Shiites, who are seeking greater rights and freedoms.