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Omani Forces Break Up Demonstration

March 2, 2011


Omani forces have dispersed demonstrators who were blocking the road to a port in the northern industrial city of Sohar, where protests earlier this week turned deadly.

Reuters news agency quotes witnesses as saying one person was injured Tuesday when security forces fired warning shots into the air.  Witnesses said tanks were also deployed.

The protesters had taken to the streets for a fourth day.  They want more jobs, higher salaries and democratic reforms in the Gulf state, where ruler Sultan Qaboos bin Said has been in power since 1970.

A protest in Sohar on Sunday turned violent, with demonstrators setting fire to a police station and other buildings, prompting police to fire tear gas and rubber bullets.  Oman’s government said one person died, but witnesses said several people were killed by police firing live bullets.

The United States has urged its Gulf ally to show restraint and engage in dialogue.

Sultan Qaboos has pledged to create 50,000 government jobs and provide a monthly benefit of $390 to the unemployed.

The rare demonstrations in the normally peaceful sultanate also spread to the capital, Muscat.

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