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Hague condemns Middle East violence

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William Hague has condemned the use of violence against demonstrators protesting at the 42-year-rule of Moammar Gaddafi (AP)

William Hague has condemned the use of violence against demonstrators protesting at the 42-year-rule of Moammar Gaddafi (AP)

Bahraini protesters celebrates at the Pearl roundabout after the military pulled out in Manama, Bahrain (AP)

Bahraini protesters celebrates at the Pearl roundabout after the military pulled out in Manama, Bahrain (AP)

Yemeni anti-government protesters shout slogans during a demonstration demanding the resignation of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, in Sanaa (AP)

Yemeni anti-government protesters shout slogans during a demonstration demanding the resignation of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, in Sanaa (AP)

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William Hague has condemned the use of violence against demonstrators protesting at the 42-year-rule of Moammar Gaddafi (AP)

Britain has condemned the "unacceptable and horrifying" use of violence by security forces in Libya, where live fire and snipers have been deployed to break up demonstrations against the 42-year rule of Moammar Gaddafi.

The death toll during three days of protests in Libya is believed to be at least 84, in the most repressive official response yet to the wave of unrest sweeping across the Arab world.

Meanwhile, in Bahrain, thousands of cheering and singing demonstrators re-occupied Pearl Square in the centre of the capital Manama as troops and riot police were ordered off the streets by the ruling Khalifa family in an apparent response to Western pressure.

Foreign Secretary William Hague spoke to the Gulf kingdom's Crown Prince Salman by telephone, expressing Britain's "deep concern" about the use of live ammunition against protesters and welcoming the decision to call off the military. Mr Hague later urged all sides in Bahrain to join the "national dialogue" offered by Prince Salman.

Unrest was also reported in Yemen, where one protester died in hospital after being shot in the neck, and in Algeria, where troops used clubs to break up a rally and prevent demonstrators from marching.

As protests continued across North Africa and the Middle East, Mr Hague called on the authorities in all countries to respond to the "legitimate aspirations" of their people, rather than using force on protesters.

"The British Government is deeply concerned by continuing reports overnight of unacceptable violence used against protesters in Libya, Bahrain and Yemen, and the deaths of protesters," said Mr Hague. "Governments must respond to legitimate aspirations of their people, rather than resort to the use of force, and must respect the right to peaceful protest. I condemn the violence in Libya, including reports of the use of heavy weapons fire and a unit of snipers against demonstrators. This is clearly unacceptable and horrifying.

"Media access has been severely restricted and I have also received reports that 35 bodies were brought to one hospital alone.

"I call on the authorities to stop using force and to rein back the army in confronting the demonstrators. The absence of TV cameras does not mean the attention of the world should not be focused on the actions of the Libyan government."

The Foreign Office has changed its travel advice to warn against all but essential travel to the cities of Benghazi, Ajdabiya, Al-Bayda, Al-Marj, Derna and Tobruk in eastern Libya, where the protests have been concentrated. Britons have also been advised against all but essential travel to Bahrain.

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