|Egypt withdraws ambassador from Israel|
Cabinet demands compensation and investigation into cross-border shooting incident that left five Egyptian police dead.
The Egyptian government has withdrawn its ambassador to Israel for consultation in protest over a cross-border shooting incident on Thursday that left five Egyptian security personnel dead.
The cabinet has also summoned the Israeli ambassador in Cairo to provide answers on how an Israeli helicopter apparently accidentally killed Egyptian border police while chasing armed men whom Israel suspected of being connected to an attack near the port city of Eilat earlier that day.
The increased diplomatic pressure on Egypt's neighbour came after Prime Minister Essam Sharaf led the cabinet in a special meeting on Friday and hundreds of protesters attacked barriers outside Israeli embassy in Cairo through the night.
Shalom Cohen, a former Israeli ambassador to Egypt, landed in Cairo on Saturday to help smooth the frayed relations between the two countries.
Sharaf's cabinet has demanded an apology from Israel and compensation for the slain policemen.
By late Saturday afternoon, Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak had expressed "regret" over the deaths.
Amos Gilad, a senior Israeli defence official, said earlier it was not yet clear how the Egyptians died.
"No [Israeli] soldier intentionally aims any weapons at Egyptian police or soldiers," Gilad said, adding that "perhaps terrorists fired at them, or something else occurred".
Barak ordered a military investigation and a joint inquiry with the Egyptian army to clarify the circumstances of Friday's incident.
Protesters tear down barriers
Demonstrators arrived at the Israeli embassy in southwest Cairo on Friday afternoon and stayed into Saturday morning, burning Israeli flags and demanding that Israel's ambassador be expelled.
They called on the Egyptian military do more to protect its border in the Sinai Peninsula.
Protesters tore down metal and concrete barriers surrounding the embassy and stomped on them, Al Jazeera correspondent Rawya Rageh reported from the scene.
"People are still gathered outside the embassy and they are making quite a lot of noise," she said.
"The protesters are insisting on making their voices heard and one of the protesters told me that they have no intention of leaving until the Israeli flag, perched on top of the 20th floor of the apartment building is brought down.
"Whether the deaths occurred as a result of direct gun fire or air raids still remains unclear and this is one the main contentious issues and one of the main reasons for the anger we were sensing outside the Israeli embassy … there is a lack of transparency regarding what exactly happened.
"We have not seen the army trying to forcefully remove protesters from the embassy, an indication perhaps that the military this time is really realising how strong the sentiment is on the street and how big the issue is for Egyptians, and that it has to thread carefully this time around."
The killings came after four separate attacks in southern Israel on Thursday.
In the first attack, men with grenades, machine guns and a suicide vest struck a bus traveling between Beersheva and Eilat, a port city on the Egyptian border. Later, at least one bomb struck an Israeli army patrol along the border with Egypt, and more armed men fired an anti-tank missile at a civilian car.
Finally, during an evening press conference regarding the earlier events, Israeli counter-terrorism forces exchanged fire with more armed men north of Eilat.
Six civilians, one army soldier and one member of the counter-terrorism unit were killed. Israeli forces killed seven "terrorists" said to be involved in the attacks, the army said.
An Israeli helicopter pursuing armed men back into the Sinai Peninsula apparently accidentally shot and killed three Egyptian security personnel and fatally wounded two others later that night.
Israeli officials alleged that the attackers had come from Gaza and crossed into Israel after moving through the Sinai.
The killings have sparked anger among the Egyptian public, especially after Ehud Barak, the Israeli defence minister, said the attacks reflected "the weakening of Egypt's hold in the Sinai and the broadening of activities by terror elements".
Khaled Fouda, the Sinai governor, refuted Barak's statements saying that Egypt has "increased security patrolling and checkpoints in Sinai".
Sami Enan, the Egyptian military chief of staff, visited Sinai on Friday to look into the deaths and speak to troops.
Amr Moussa, a front-runner for Egypt's upcoming presidential
elections who stepped down earlier this year as Arab League chief, urged a strong reaction.
"The blood of these conscripts is not cheap. All parties, including Israel, have to be warned against harming Egyptian soldiers," he said.
"Israel and any other (country) must understand that the day our sons get killed without a strong and an appropriate response, is gone and will not come back," Moussa wrote on Twitter.
"The blood of our martyrs which was spilled while carrying out their duties, will not be shed in vain."
Saad al-Katatni, a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, said in a statement published on the website for theShorouk newspaper that "the Zionists must realise that Egyptian blood now has a price".
Abdul Moneim Aboul Fotouh, a former Brotherhood member who is running for president, said that Egypt should expel the Israeli ambassador and halt gas supplies to Israel.
Egypt and Israel signed a peace treaty in 1979 which limits the number of military troops Egypt can station in the Sinai Peninsula, but protesters have called to revise the agreement after a popular revolution ousted president Hosni Mubarak in February.
The military, which took power after Mubarak's overthrow, has said it would honour the treaty.
|Libyan rebels 'take control' of central Brega|
Rebels claim centre of the eastern oil town, amid conflicting reports as to whether they control its oil facilities.
|Opposition fighters have also taken control of an oil refinery in the port city of Az Zawiyah [Reuters]|
Libyan rebels have reportedly taken control of the centre of the oil-rich eastern town of Brega, located east of Tripoli.
"It was in the early hours of Saturday morning that opposition forces were able to take the centre of Brega," Al Jazeera's Jacky Rowland reported from Benghazi.
"They were holed up in residential districts outside the town for a couple days. Very early on Saturday morning they moved in."
Questions remained about their control of the oil facilities there, she said.
"We are getting conflicted reports, though, about whether they have been able to get control of the oil and gas facility in Brega," she said.
"Initial reports from military commanders both here in Benghazi, and the frontlines, said yes, the rebels had taken that facility.
"But we are also hearing conflicted rumours that in fact a couple of vehicles went out, found the oil depot apparently deserted, and became suspicious, fearing possible booby traps and ambushes."
Clashes at Tunisia-Libyan border
Meanwhile on Saturday, Tunisian security forces said armed forces fought through the night against a group of armed Libyans who had infiltrated into Tunisia.
One security source said the group were driving vehicles with weapons and had been intercepted in the desert on Friday night. The fighting, which was continuing on Saturday, had caused several casualties.
A military source confirmed that the armed men were Libyans. He did not say whether they were supporters of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi or rebels fighting to topple him.
The military source said a Tunisian military helicopter had crashed on Saturday morning in the border area, killing the pilot and co-pilot. He did not say whether the crash, blamed on a mechanical fault, was linked to fighting with the infiltrators.
The Tunisian army has reinforced its presence and intensified its operations in the border area in recent days.
Libya's rebels have advanced this week, cutting off Gaddafi's forces near the Tunisian border from their supply lines to Gaddafi's capital Tripoli.
The latest advance by the rebel forces come as Libyan opposition wrested control of the strategic cities of Az Zawiyah, Zlitan and as they pushed closer to the stronghold of Gaddafi.
Fighting continued late on Friday as Gaddafi forces launched a fierce counterattack along the coastal highway 50km west of Tripoli.
Sustained blasts from rocket-propelled grenades, mortars and anti-aircraft guns were heard from the direction of city's central square as a black column of smoke rose into the evening sky, the Reuters news agency said.
Reuters said that opposition fighters in city's central square exchanged heavy fire with Gaddafi forces occupying a floor of the city's main hospital nearby before driving them out.
This comes a day after rebels took complete control of Az Zawiyah's key oil refinery.
To the east, rebels fought bloody street battles in the city of Zlitan, suffering heavy casualties, Reuters said.
At least 26 rebels are reported to have been killed in the fighting for Zlitan, as forces loyal to Gaddafi used tanks and heavy weapons to repel the attack. Another 150 opposition fighters were reported injured.
The rebels said between 40 and 50 of Gaddafi's forces were also killed in the fighting.
Government troops have been fighting rebels in and around Zlitan for months. The town is a major obstacle in the path from the nearby city of Misrata trying to make their way to Tripoli.
Al Jazeera's Andrew Simmons, who visited Zlitan, confirmed the rebel victory there and said there were scenes of jubilation.
"The rebel fighters took heavy losses, they came under fire from artillery and rockets but they moved forward," Simmons said.
"After fighters from Misrata moved in, opposition fighters within Zlitan rose and took on, in small groupings, the Gaddafi forces.
"The Gaddafi troops pulled out leaving ammunition and a lot of equipment behind."
Foreigners to be evacuated
As fighting intensified, the International Organisation for Migration announced plans to start evacuating "large numbers'' of Egyptians and other foreigners, including some journalists, from Tripoli in coming days.
|The capture of Zlitan, 150km east of the capital Tripoli, is a major boost for rebel fighters|
Simmons said for more than two months the [rebels] had been stuck on the outskirts of Zlitan.
"It was a major block because there wasn't overall support by the people of Zlitan initially," he said.
"Those civilians who may have been Gaddafi supporters were treated well by the opposition.
"It's a strategic town, [if] they want to advance on to Tripoli. Now they could do it very quickly. They have a clear run on this coastal road of almost 60km."
The rebels claimed on Thursday they had captured the 120,000-barrel-per-day refinery in Az Zawiyah, a potential turning point in the six-month war.
Opposition forces also claimed to be in control of the town of Surman, 60km west of Tripoli, and Gharyan, 50km to the south.
Significance of Az Zawiyah
Shashank Joshi, of the Royal United Service Institute in London, told Al Jazeera the rebels have learned from past mistakes to move forward methodically.
"They can't just rush ahead and take ground and then forced to move back," he said.
"They have observed that lesson and I think very effectively, and this is why they are still fighting to clear Az Zawiyah.
"They have taken a number of days to fight their way through to take the refinery and they have worked very hard for that, which is why they are very likely, this time around unlike on previous occasions, to actually hold the ground they had taken.
"The significance of Az Zawiyah cannot be seen in isolation, we have to see it in combination of what’s going on in Gharyan, south of Tripoli and Zlitan to the east.
"And all of these locations can be consolidated and their grip solidified, and we are going to see Tripoli being put in a state of siege."
NATO has stepped up bombings in Tripoli in recent days, while rebels have been seeking to sever supply lines from Tunisia to the west and to Gaddafi's hometown of Sirte in the east in a move to cut off the capital, prompt defections and spark an uprising inside Gaddafi's stronghold.
|Al Jazeera journalist held in Israeli prison|
Samer Allawi, network's Kabul bureau chief, held in prison since August 10 after being detained in occupied West Bank.
|Allawi was arrested when he was crossing the border between Jordan and the occupied West Bank|
Samer Allawi, Al Jazeera Arabic's Kabul bureau chief, has been brought before an Israeli military court, almost a week after he was arrested by Israeli officials when he tried to cross the border between Jordan and the occupied West Bank.
Israeli authorities extended his detention by seven days and charged him with being a member of Hamas on Tuesday.
Allawi was arrested on August 10 at the end of a three-week holiday in his home town of Sabastia near Nablus.
The Israeli authorities originally informed Allawi's family that he would be held for four days for questioning, saying that it was a "security-related arrest".
Last Thursday, the authorities told Al Jazeera that Allawi's detention would be extended.
He is currently in Israeli state custody in a prison camp at Petah Tikva detention centre.
Salim Waqim, Allawi's lawyer, told Al Jazeera that his client was interrogated about his work and management of Al Jazeera's Kabul bureau, his personal financial information, and his relationships with colleagues, friends, family and relatives.
Israeli authorities took his computer login information and during his interrogation Allawi was accused of being a member of Hamas and having contact with its military leadership, Waqim said.
Majed Khadr, output manager at Al Jazeera said that Allawi told his lawyer that he would be charged with transferring money and orders from Afghanistan to the occupied West Bank if he refused to act as an informant.
However, Allawi continued to refuse to cooporate with the authorities interrogating him.
Local human rights and press freedom groups have released statements condemning Allawi's arrest.
Mohamed Abdel Dayam, the Middle East and North Africa programme co-ordinator at the New York-based CPJ said: "Israel must clarify why it continues to hold Samer Allawi.
"Our concern for Allawi's well-being and his legal rights is amplified with every passing day he is held without due process."
|Yemeni leader vows to return home soon,Libya News|
Ali Abdullah Saleh says he will return soon during broadcast from Saudi Arabia where he is recovering from attack.
|Steet protests calling for the ousting of President Ali Abdullah Saleh have continued for months in Yemen [Reuters]|
Ali Abdullah Saleh, the Yemeni president recovering in Saudi Arabia from wounds sustained in an attack on his palace in June, has vowed to return home soon.
Saleh, who appeared in good shape compared with previous appearances, spoke on Tuesday in a televised address.
The president renewed his calls for early presidential elections, telling supporters: "See you soon in the capital Sanaa."
He also blasted the opposition, saying they were made up of the "leftovers of Marxists, the Taliban and the imamate," Yemen's ousted monarchist rulers.
Parliament's Common Forum opposition is due to meet on Wednesday to elect an umbrella "national council" aimed at taking over power in the absence of the president.
The United States and Saleh's Saudi hosts have pressured him to remain in Saudi Arabia, fearing his return to Yemen could spark a civil war.
Saleh said he was willing to transfer power to his vice-president if the opposition pulls armed tribal fighters from the streets and the opposition ends its street rallies, the Associated Press news agency reported.
Saleh's address came as fierce clashes overnight between tribesmen and Yemen troops left 23 tribesmen dead, according to a tribal source.
"Twenty-three of our fighters were killed in fierce overnight clashes with the Republican Guard," said the source from the Bakil tribe, adding that the worst fighting was concentrated in the area of Sheheb Arhab.
The trouble began last week after the elite Republican Guard, which is led by Saleh's son, Ahmed, installed a checkpoint that allegedly harassed residents of the area that is considered the northeastern gate to Sanaa.
The source said troops chased tribesmen to their villages after few skirmishes, adding that the Republican Guard and the army had recently deployed reinforcements in Arhab, which lies 40km outside Sanaa.
Tribal sources claimed that the army was planning a war against the Bakil tribe, Yemen's largest confederation of smaller tribes.
But officials have claimed that gunmen belonging to the opposition were plotting to take control of a nearby army base and the Sanaa airport.
Dozens were allegedly killed in clashes that erupted in late July between armed tribesmen and the army at the nearby Samaa camp, which the defence ministry claimed gunmen wanted to control in order to seize the international airport.
Deputy information minister Abdo al-Janadi accused Mansur al-Hanaq, a former member of the influential opposition Islamist Al-Islah (Reform) party, of being behind the attack.
A military official said "these armed criminal elements aimed to control the Samaa camp in an attempt to take over Sanaa International airport as part of their plan to overthrow the constitutional legitimacy and seize power by force," according to defence ministry website 26sep.net.
The Republican Guard has been fighting tribes in various regions of Yemen as several of the heavily armed tribesmen sided with protesters demanding the ousting of Saleh since January.
Saleh, in power since 1978, has come under intense pressure from street protesters demanding his resignation and has remained in Saudi Arabia for nearly two months after his palace was attacked.
Libyan rebels tighten grip around Tripoli,Libya News
Libyan rebels tighten grip around Tripoli
Opposition says its forces have reached Al-Heisha and captured two towns on supply roads in campaign to isolate capital.
"The scouting teams of the revolutionaries reached the outskirts of Al-Heisha after expelling Gaddafi forces," the rebel military command said in a statement early on Wednesday.
It was just the latest in a series of battlefield operations to isolate the capital.Al-Heisha lies roughly 70km south of Misurata and 250km from Tripoli, near two key crossroads that link loyalist-held territory in the west with that in the oil-rich Sirte basin.
In addition to gaining a foothold in Az-Zawiyah, rebels said they had taken two towns near Tripoli on key supply roads Gharyan, 80 km south of the capital and Surman, less than 16 km west of Az-Zawiyah.
"Gharyan is fully in the hands of the revolutionaries," a rebel spokesman, Abdulrahman, said by telephone. "Gaddafi has been isolated. He has been cut off from the outside world."
Government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim acknowledged in remarks broadcast on state television that rebel fighters were in Gharyan. "There are still armed gangs inside the city. We are able to drive them out," he said.
But while rebels controlled most of Az-Zawiyah, Gaddafi forces shelled the city, wounding several civilians.
Funerals were held for 23 others who rebels said were killed the previous day.
"We shut down all four pipelines to Tripoli," El-Bouaisi said, whose claim could not be verified.
NTC-Gaddafi talks denied
Meanwhile, a UN envoy has arrived in neighbouring Tunisia, where sources say rebels and representatives of the government are in talks on the island resort of Djerba.
The envoy, Abdul Ilah al-Khatib, told the Reuters news agency he would meet "Libyan personalities residing in Tunisia" to discuss the conflict.
Talks could signal the endgame of a battle that has drawn in the NATO alliance and emerged as one of the deadliest confrontations in the wave of unrest sweeping the Arab world.
But spokesman Farhan Haq said the United Nations had "no concrete information" on any talks in Tunisia and that its Libya envoy, al-Khatib, was not taking part in any such talks.
The reports of rebel-government talks also sparked a swift denial from Gaddafi's government. His spokesman dismissed reports of negotiations about the Libyan leader's future as part of a "media war" against him."The leader is here in Libya, fighting for the freedom of our nation. He will not leave Libya," spokesman Moussa Ibrahim said.
Abdul Hafez Ghoga, vice chairman of the National Transitional Council (NTC), also denied that such talks were under way.
Gaddafi forces on Sunday fired a scud missile near Brega on the main frontline in the east of the country; the first use of the weapon since the uprising against his rule began six months ago, according to a US military official said.
Although no one was hurt in the attack and the missiles are considered unreliable weapons, Richard Weitz, director of the Centre for Political and Military Analysis at the Hudson Institute, told Al Jazeera the use of scuds could signal Gaddafi's determination to fight.