Colombia has decided to deploy troops in the capital, Bogota, following violent protests in support of a strike by small-scale farmers.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said the troops were needed “to assure normality”.
Clashes with police broke out after thousands of people took to the streets in support of the farmers. At least two people have died.
Farmers say government policies are driving them into bankruptcy.
“Last night, I ordered the militarization of Bogota and I will do the same today in any municipality or area that needs the presence of our soldiers,” Juan Manuel Santos said in a televised address after an overnight cabinet meeting.
“It’s unacceptable that the actions of a few impact the lives of the majority.”
He did not say how many troops would be called in.
Colombia has deployed troops in Bogota following violent protests in support of small-scale farmers strike
President Juan Manuel Santos had earlier described the protests as “valid”, but urged demonstrators to keep them peaceful.
Clashes broke out on Thursday afternoon after tens of thousands of people marched peacefully in support of a 10-day protest by small-scale farmers.
Correspondents said masked youths threw stones and bricks and fought riot police who responded with tear gas and water cannon.
The two deaths occurred overnight in the western districts of Suba and Engativa, although the circumstances are not yet clear, Bogota security chief Alfonso Jaramillo said.
Interior Minister Fernando Carrillo said that those who had resorted to violence were “vandals, not farmers”.
The protests have united potato growers and milk producers with teachers, health workers and students – and negotiations with the government remain deadlocked.
Protesters in other parts of the country have also been blocking roads and disrupting food supplies to major cities and towns.
On Wednesday the government announced measures – including better prices for agricultural products and more access to loans – to ease the pressure on farmers.
The government also promised more protection from products imported at lower prices from countries with free-trade agreements with Colombia.
But the small-scale farmers have so far rejected the government’s offer.
They say that free trade agreements with the EU and the US, which have recently come into force, are flooding the market with agricultural products at prices they are unable to match.
They also complain that rising fuel and production costs have turned small-scale farming into a loss-making business.
Mexican teachers incensed by sweeping education reforms have attacked the buildings of political parties in the south-western state of Guerrero.
For several hours, masked protesters started fires and attacked the offices with pickaxes and sticks, spraying slogans on the walls.
Guerrer governor has called for support from the federal government.
The reforms impose centralized teacher assessment and seek to end corrupt practices in the education system.
Those practices include the buying and selling of teaching positions.
But unions say the reforms could lead to big lay-offs, and critics also suggest they may be paving the way for the privatization of Mexico’s education system.
Mexican teachers incensed by sweeping education reforms have attacked the buildings of political parties in the south-western state of Guerrero
Wednesday’s protests came a day after the Guerrero state legislature refused to amend the educational bill, which includes constitutional changes which must be passed by each state.
Police stood by during Wednesday’s rampage in the state capital, Chilpancingo – though hundreds are guarding the state legislature.
Dozens of protesters targeted the local headquarters of the governing party, the PRI, as well as the offices of the opposition PAN and PRD, which have supported the reforms.
A senator’s office and state education department building were also attacked by the demonstrators, who broke windows and tossed computer equipment, desks and chairs out of the windows.
They burned papers inside the offices, some of which still had frightened workers inside when the masked men broke in, and sprayed slogans including “traitors of the people” on the walls.
The teachers are part of the country’s smaller, more radical union, the National Co-ordinator of Education Workers.
Union spokesman Minervo Moran said the violent protests were “a reaction to the aggressive policies that are being imposed by the reforms and that’s why there was this sort of action against the parties” that voted against the protesters’ proposals.
Guerrero Governor Angel Aguirre called for federal back-up and the PRI chairman Cesar Camacho pledged to investigate the unrest.
“We need to avoid the law of the jungle imposing itself, chaos and the breakdown of public order,” Cesar Camacho was quoted as saying.
Recently formed civilian self-defence groups are thought to have joined the demonstrators wreaking havoc on Wednesday.
Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto signed the education law in February, but parliamentarians need to draw up separate legislation to implement it.
The assassination of Tunisian opposition leader Chokri Belaid outside his home this morning has prompted violent protests in Tunisia.
Relatives say Chokri Belaid was shot in the neck and head on his way to work.
Chokri Belaid was a prominent secular opponent of the moderate Islamist-led government and his murder has sparked protests around the country, with police firing tear gas to disperse angry crowds.
Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki has condemned the killing and is cutting short a visit to France to return home.
He has also cancelled a scheduled appearance at a summit in Egypt to return home.
Tunisia is currently gripped by political crisis as talks on a long-awaited cabinet reshuffle to include a wider range of parties in a coalition led by the Ennahda party have broken down.
This is the first time a political leader has been assassinated since the Arab Spring uprising of January 2011, in a country where political assassinations are rare.
Speaking in front of the European Parliament on his visit to Strasbourg, President Moncef Marzouki said the murder of Chokri Belaid should not affect Tunisia’s revolution.
“There are many enemies of our peaceful revolution. And they’re determined to ensure it fails,” he said.
Referring to Chokri Belaid as a “long-standing friend”, he said his “hateful assassination” was a threat.
“This is a letter being sent to us that we will refuse to open. We reject that message and we will continue to unmask the enemies of the revolution,” said the president, who was to participate in the summit of the Organization of Islamic Co-operation in Cairo on Thursday and is instead returning home directly from Strasbourg.
The assassination of Tunisian opposition leader Chokri Belaid outside his home this morning has prompted violent protests in Tunisia
According to AFP news agency, people torched the premises of the Ennahda party in the central town of Mezzouna, and ransacked the party’s offices in the mining town of Gafsa in protest at Chokri Belaid’s death.
In Tunis, police fired tear gas to disperse protesters who had gathered outside the interior ministry, it reports.
Crowds had been chanting they want a “second revolution”.
Police also fired tear gas at demonstrators in Sidi Bouzid, the town where the revolution that toppled Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali from the presidency began a little more than two years ago, AFP reports.
It is not known who is responsible for the attack on the politician.
Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali said his murder was an “act of terrorism” and promised to pursue all efforts to “immediately” arrest the murderer.
Chokri Belaid was the coordinator of the left-leaning Democratic Patriots party, part of a group of opposition parties which has been challenging the government since it came to power following the country’s first post-Arab Spring election in October 2011.
“This murder robs Tunisia of one of its most courageous and free voices,” French President Francois Hollande said in a statement.
On Saturday, Chokri Belaid accused “mercenaries” hired by the Ennahda party of carrying out an attack on a Democratic Patriots meeting.
The Paris-based France 24 TV station has reported that Chokri Belaid reportedly received recent death threats.
It said that he died in hospital after being shot by “three men in a black vehicle”.
“My brother was assassinated. I am desperate and depressed,” Chokri Belaid’s brother Abdelmajid Belaid told AFP.
Correspondents say that although Chokri Belaid’s party did not have a large share of the election vote, it spearheaded popular concern over the rising level of political violence in Tunisia.
Greek parliament has narrowly backed a fresh round of austerity measures, despite violent protests across the country.
The austerity package aimed at securing the next round of bailout funds was passed with 153 MPs in favor – a majority of just three.
The 13.5 billion-euro ($17.3 billion) bill includes tax rises and pension cuts.
Earlier, riot police fired tear gas towards protesters when they were attacked with petrol bombs in Athens.
Prime Minister Antonis Samaras warned before the vote late on Wednesday that without the bailout Greece would run out of money this month and face “catastrophe”.
The austerity package – Greece’s fourth in three years – is meant to close the nation’s budget deficit, lower its huge debt burden and make its economy more competitive.
MPs must now pass a revised budget on Sunday before eurozone finance ministers meet next week to approve 31.5 billion euros in fresh loans from the European Union (EU) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that Greece needs to avoid imminent bankruptcy.
But the level of resistance on the streets is a reminder that implementing the latest tough measures will be extraordinarily difficult.
The crucial vote was held after a lengthy debate in the 300-strong parliament.
Greek parliament has narrowly backed a fresh round of austerity measures, despite violent protests across the country
Immediately after the bill was adopted, co-governing New Democracy and Pasok parties expelled seven lawmakers from their ranks for failing to back the package.
The adopted plan includes a two-year increase in the retirement age from the current average of 65, as well as salary cuts and labor market reforms, including cuts to holiday benefits, notice periods and severance pay.
Workers fear this will just make it easier and cheaper for them to be fired at a time when unemployment has already soared to 25% and a five-year recession means there are few job prospects.
“Many of these measures are fair and should have been taken years ago, without anyone asking us to,” Antonis Samaras said.
“Others are unfair – cutting wages and salaries – and there is no point in dressing this up as something else,” the prime minister said, adding that Greece was, nevertheless, obliged to take the measures.
Antonis Samaras has said that without this money, which will be used largely to recapitalize the country’s banks, the country will be bankrupt by 15 November.
Earlier on Wednesday, tens of thousands of protesters held a rally in Syntagma Square – outside the parliament building in the heart of the capital.
The protesters chanted: “People – don’t bow your heads!”
Some in the crowd held giant flags of Greece, Portugal, Italy and Spain – four of the eurozone’s most heavily-indebted states.
The riot police – who sealed off parliament – later fired tear gas after the demonstrators attacked them with petrol bombs and flares.
Protests also took place in other big cities across Greece.
The Greek unions were staging what they described as the “mother of all strikes” – a 48-hour walkout which culminated on Wednesday.
The third major strike in just two months brought public transport to a halt and shut schools, banks and government buildings.
Measures in austerity package
Retirement age up from 65 to 67
A further round of pension cuts, of 5-15%
Salary cuts, notably for police officers, soldiers, firefighters, professors, judges, justice officials; minimum wage also reduced
Holiday benefits cut
35% cut to severance pay
Redundancy notice reduced from six to four months.
Panama’s President Ricardo Martinelli says he cancels plans to sell off state-owned land in the duty-free zone of Colon, after violent protests.
Three people have been killed in the clashes between residents and security forces, local media report.
The protesters said the land sale, signed into law on Friday, would cost jobs and cut incomes.
The Colon region is the biggest duty-free zone in Latin America but is blighted by poverty and crime.
President Ricardo Martinelli had said the sale of the state-owned land would benefit the region.
But late on Tuesday, he said on Twitter: “If the people of Colon don’t want the sale of lands in the Free Trade Zone, the sale will be repealed.”
Ricardo Martinelli said instead, commercial rents would be increased and the money reinvested in the region, as protesters had been demanding.
The president, who is on an official visit to Japan, has come under criticism for not breaking off his trip in the face of the continuing protests.
A 27-year-old woman became the latest person to die on Tuesday, following the death of a man and a nine-year-old boy in clashes over the past five days.
Panama’s President Ricardo Martinelli says he cancels plans to sell off state-owned land in the duty-free zone of Colon, after violent protests
Opponents of the law included trade unions, members of the Colon Chamber of Commerce and a variety of civil society groups.
A government delegation which had travelled to Colon to meet the protesters returned to the capital, Panama City, on Tuesday after the activists refused to talk to them unless the new legislation was repealed.
Colon Chamber of Commerce President Anacleto Ceballos had announced on Tuesday that a 48-hour strike would be extended for another day.
Panama’s economy has boomed in recent years, but sections of the population remain excluded from its commercial success.
The city of Colon – one of the largest free trade ports in the world and in operation since the 1950s – sits at the end of the Panama Canal just outside the former Panama Canal Zone.
The canal, linking the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific, is Panama’s main source of revenue.
Spain will set out today its austerity budget for 2013, against a backdrop of a deteriorating economy and 25% unemployment rate.
Madrid is expected to outline 39 billion euros ($50 billion) worth of savings, tax rises, and structural reforms.
It comes amid further protests this week, and growing expectations that Spain will seek a bailout from its eurozone partners.
On Friday, results of a stress test on Spain’s banks are due to be released.
The Spanish stock exchange’s Ibex index held steady in morning trading on Thursday, having lost 3.9% the previous day.
Other European stock markets experienced modest rebounds of about 0.5%.
Spain will set out today its austerity budget for 2013
Stocks fell sharply on Wednesday, as markets were rattled by violent protests in Madrid and Athens, as well as a statement from the Spanish central bank that the country’s economy had continued to shrink in the third quarter of the year.
However, the more optimistic sentiment was boosted on Thursday when the Greek finance minister, Yannis Stournaras, said that a “basic agreement” had been reached with lenders on the austerity measures required for the release of Greece’s next tranche of bailout money.
On the bond markets, the Spanish government’s long-term cost of borrowing stabilized in early trading, at an implied interest rate of just over 6% for 10-year debt.
The 10-year rate had risen by a quarter percentage point on Wednesday, as lenders’ fears over the government’s ability to repay its debts, or stay within the euro, resurfaced.
However, it seems investors are losing patience.
Spain will hope that Thursday’s austerity measures will mean fewer economic conditions if it asks for a second bailout.
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy fuelled expectations that Spain would ask for a bailout when he told the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday that if borrowing costs were “too high for too long”, then “I can assure you 100% that I would ask for this bailout”.
The economic situation remains grim, with comments from the central bank on Wednesday indicating that the country’s recession deepened in the last three months.
“Available data for the third quarter of the year suggest output continued to fall at a significant pace, in an environment in which financial tension remained at very high levels,” the Bank of Spain said in a monthly report.
Last week, Spain’s second biggest bank, BBVA, estimated that up to another 60 billion euros ($78 billion) will be needed to bail out the banking sector.
About 20 billion euros has already been allocated to troubled banks.
Spain, the eurozone’s fourth largest economy, fell back into recession in the last quarter of 2011, the second recession since the bursting of the country’s property bubble.
But with a shrinking economy and unrest in the country, reducing the deficit via further austerity measures may prove a difficult task for the government.
The government has predicted a budget deficit this year of about 6.3%, but many analysts estimate it will be nearer 7% or higher.
The basic outline for the budget has been known since July, but not exactly where the cuts and savings will come from.
There has been speculation that the budget could include such measures as taxes on shares transactions, “green taxes” on emissions or eliminating tax breaks, and even possibly ending inflation-linked pensions.
Madrid has already said that it wants to claw back a total of more than 150 billion euros between 2012 and 2014: 62 billion euros this year, 39 billion euros in 2013, and 50 billion euros in 2014.
But many analysts remain skeptical that this will be enough to resolve Spain’s economic woes.
Despite the public anger, PM Mariano Rajoy said sacrifices were necessary.
“We know what we have to do, and since we know it, we’re doing it,” he said in a speech in New York.
“We also know this entails a lot of sacrifices distributed… evenly throughout the Spanish society,” he said.
But Boris Schlossberg, managing director at New York-based BK Asset, said: “Spain is in a vicious cycle, because austerity is hurting economic activity and revenues, which causes greater fiscal gaps.”
“People are starting to realize this, and the political will to absorb these sacrifices is diminishing by the hour,” he said.
Fresh protests are taking place around the Muslim world over amateur anti-Islam video Innocence of Muslims, which was produced in the US.
At least one protester was killed in violent protests in Pakistan and thousands attended an angry rally in the Philippines city of Marawi.
Weapons were fired and police cars torched in the Afghan capital, Kabul.
The leader of Lebanon’s Hezbollah has said the US faces “very dangerous” repercussions if it allows the full video to be released.
In a rare public appearance, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah told a rally in the capital Beirut that the world did not understand the “breadth of the humiliation” caused by the “worst attack ever on Islam”.
Thousands of people were on the streets, waving flags and chanting: “America, hear us – don’t insult our Prophet”.
Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, the influential leader of the Shia Muslim militant group, earlier called for a week of protests – not only against American embassies, but also to press Muslim governments to express their own anger to the US.
A trailer for the obscure, poorly made film at the centre of the row, entitled Innocence of Muslims, came to light in recent weeks and protests first erupted in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, last Tuesday.
More than a dozen people have died in protests since.
In Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, the local press club was burnt down and government offices attacked in the Upper Dir district.
One protester was killed in an exchange of fire with police, following the death of another protester on Sunday.
A protest of thousands of students took place in the nearby city of Peshawar, reported AFP news agency.
In the biggest city, Karachi, police fired in the air to disperse a crowd heading for the US consulate, reported Reuters, and lawyers marched in Lahore.
At least one protester was killed in violent protests in Pakistan over anti-Islam video Innocence of Muslims
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair said the film was “wrong and offensive but also laughable as a piece of film-making – what is dangerous and wrong is the reaction to it”.
Tony Blair, who now serves as a Middle East peace envoy, said the protests were ultimately about the “struggle of modernization” under way in the region and not “some form of oppression by the West”.
The exact origins of the film are shrouded in mystery, although US authorities say they believe the film was made by Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, a convicted fraudster living in California who has since been questioned over his role.
A trailer of the film is available on YouTube and the company said it would not remove it as it was within its guidelines.
But a spokesperson said YouTube had restricted access to the clip in countries where its content is illegal “such as India and Indonesia as well as in Libya and Egypt given the very sensitive situations in these two countries”.
The eruption of anger has seen attacks on US consulates, embassies and business interests across the Middle East and North Africa. British, Swiss, German and Dutch properties have also been targeted.
The US ambassador to Libya was among four Americans killed on the day protests first broke out.
Libyan Interior Minister Fawzi Abdul Al has dismissed a claim on Sunday by the president of the national congress that 50 people have been arrested in connection with the deaths.
He said only four people had been detained so far, although up to 50 could be under investigation.
• About 3,000 protesters burned US and Israeli flags in the southern Philippines city of Marawi
• In Yemen, hundreds of students in the capital, Sanaa, called for the expulsion of the US ambassador, said AFP
• In Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta, hundreds of protesters faced off with police, throwing stones and petrol bombs, while police retaliated with tear gas
• More protests were reported in Srinagar, Indian-administered Kashmir
• Hundreds of Palestinians staged a peaceful sit-in protest in the West Bank city of Ramallah
• Angry demonstrators in the Afghan capital, Kabul, fired guns, torched police cars and shouted anti-US slogans
• A small protest was held outside the US embassy in Azerbaijan’s capital, Baku, AP reported.
Violent protests were sweeping across the Muslim world following the bloody attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya that led to the death of Ambassador Christopher Stevens, as U.S. officials say they are sending warships to the coast of the volatile country in an apparent terrorist hunt.
Two marines and a communications officer were also killed dead in the strike in the city of Benghazi.
Also on Wednesday, U.S. officials said one destroyer, the USS Laboon, moved to a position off the coast of Libya, and the USS McFaul is en route and should be stationed off the coast within days.
The officials say the ships, which carry Tomahawk missiles, do not have a specific mission. But they give commanders flexibility to respond to any mission ordered by the president.
The destroyers have crews totaling about 300. There have been four destroyers in the Mediterranean for some time. These moves will increase that to five.
Officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss troop movements.
Palestinians burn a US flag during a protest against the movie, Innocence of Muslims, near the UN office in Gaza City
But as tensions rise outside Libya, the response to a film produced in the U.S. that depicts Prophet Mohammed is sending shockwaves through the Muslim world.
In Cairo, protests continued into early Thursday morning near Tahrir Square, the site of Egypt’s massive uprising last year.
With further street violence and demonstrations expected across the Middle East, Britain, the U.S. and their European allies stepped-up security at their embassies and consulates.
On Wednesday night, there were protests outside U.S. diplomatic buildings in countries including Tunisia, Sudan, Morocco and Egypt.
In Tunis, the Tunisian capital, police fired teargas and rubber bullets into the air to disperse a protest.
Around 200 protesters, many of whom had long beards, burned U.S. flags and chanted slogans such as “Obama, Obama, we are here for the triumph of Islam”.
It is believed that the attacks were part of a coordinated ambush by terrorists using a pro-Islam protest as cover.
The victims died during a rocket attack when an armed mob set fire to the consulate in Benghazi after joining a protest over a “blasphemous” film about the Prophet Mohammed.
It was also revealed on Wednesday that Ambassador Christopher Stevens and information technology specialist Sean Smith were killed during an attempt by U.S. forces to evacuate staff from a safe house, Libya’s Deputy Interior Minister Wanis Al-Sharif said.
U.S. consular staff was moved to the safe house after an attack on the consul building in the eastern city of Benghazi in which the ambassador was killed, minister Wanis Al-Sharif told a news conference.
A plane with U.S. security units arrived from Tripoli to evacuate other staff but militants discovered the location of the safe house, he said.
“It was supposed to be a secret place and we were surprised the armed groups knew about it. There was shooting,” he said.
Two American security personnel were killed in the shooting, Wanis Al-Sharif said. Two other people were killed and between 12 and 17 wounded.
It is believed a “small, vicious group” of attackers used the protest as a diversion, although questions remain over whether the killers drummed up support for the march or simply took advantage of it, an official told CNN.
While it is not known exactly who was responsible for the rampage, a London think tank with strong ties to Libya said Christopher Stevens, who is not believed to have been targeted, could have been the victim of a revenge attack by al Qaeda.
U.S. officials, describing their preliminary understanding of the incident, told Reuters that the attack began at roughly 10:00 p.m. local time on Tuesday, with Ambassador Christopher Stevens, Sean Smith and one security officer trapped under fire in the burning consulate building.
“They became separated from each other due to the heavy dark smoke while they were trying to evacuate the burning building,” one senior official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The security officer made it outside, and returned with help to search for the missing U.S. diplomatic personnel.
The assault “came to avenge the death of Abu Yaya al-Libi, al Qaeda’s second in command killed a few months ago” in Pakistan, think tank Quilliam told CNN, noting the rocket-propelled grenade launchers used in the attack do not normally appear at peaceful protests.