BEIRUT — Syrian troops and tanks swept into the northern coastal town of Baniyas on Saturday to suppress anti-government demonstrations, tightening the squeeze on a persistent yet largely leaderless opposition movement that has refused to stop staging protests despite a deadly military crackdown.
Human rights groups said three women were shot dead in a village outside Baniyas when they joined a demonstration to protest the army's actions. Land lines and cellphone services to the town were cut off and otherwise no information was emerging about what was happening there.
At least 25 tanks rolled into the town about 2 a.m., according to rights groups and a witness who said soldiers were shooting into the air as they advanced through the darkened streets. The witness spoke by telephone before communications were cut, on the condition of anonymity because he feared for his safety.
Christians clash with Muslims in Cairo
CAIRO — Christians and Muslims fought in the streets of western Cairo on Saturday in violence triggered by word of a mixed romance, Egypt's official news agency reported. At least five people were killed.
The clashes marked an escalation in tension between Egypt's Muslims and its Coptic Christian minority that has coincided with uncertainty surrounding the country's path after President Hosni Mubarak's ouster in February.
The news agency said the violence Saturday broke out in the Imbaba neighborhood after word spread that a Christian woman had married a Muslim and was being held in a church against her will.
Vice president of Ecuador declares win
QUITO, Ecuador — Ecuador's vice president declared victory after an exit poll Saturday indicated voters roundly approved 10 ballot questions proposed by leftist President Rafael Correa that critics say will strengthen his grip on power, inhibit press freedom and lessen the judiciary's independence.
The exit poll by SP Investigacion y Estudios, which regularly does work for the government, said voters approved all the questions by greater than 60 percent. First official results were expected later Saturday.