Feb. 27, 2011
By Saleh Al-Shaibany
MUSCAT (Reuters) – Omani police fired rubber bullets at stone-throwing protesters demanding political reform on Sunday, killing two people, and demonstrators set government buildings and cars ablaze, witnesses said.
Hours after the violence, Oman’s ruler, Sultan Qaboos, gave an order to create 50,000 jobs for citizens in the Gulf Arab state of 2.7 million people, 70 percent of whom are nationals.
All detained protesters were later freed, state media said.
The trouble in the northeastern port of Sohar, Oman’s main industrial center, was a rare sign of discontent in the normally sleepy sultanate and followed a wave of pro-democracy protests across the Arab world.
Witnesses said more than 2,000 protesters had gathered for a second day in a square in Sohar demanding political reforms, more jobs and better pay before police tried to disperse them, first with tear gas and batons and then rubber bullets.
“Two people have died after police fired rubber bullets into the crowd,” one witness told Reuters from Sohar. A third person was reported in critical condition after being shot.
Another witness said earlier police had used live ammunition, but that could not immediately be confirmed. Troops deployed in the area, but did not intervene, witnesses said.
Sultan Qaboos bin Said, trying to ease tensions in U.S. ally Oman, reshuffled his cabinet on Saturday, a week after a small protest in the capital Muscat. He has ruled for four decades, exercising absolute power. Political parties are banned.
RULER ISSUES JOB PLAN
“His Majesty Sultan Qaboos … issued n an order to employ 50,000 citizens,” the state news agency ONA said on Sunday. Each job-seeker would receive 150 rials ($389.6) a month, it said.
Mostly wealthy Gulf Arab countries have stepped up reform measures to appease their populations following popular unrest that toppled the leaders of Tunisia and Egypt.
Oman’s state news agency said riots in Sohar had destroyed public and private property but did not mention any deaths.
“Police and anti-riot units moved against this subversive group to protect citizens and their property, which led to some injuries,” the news agency said.
Smoke billowed over a square that has been the center of protests. A Reuters journalist said a local office of the Ministry of Manpower was on fire, and witnesses said the main police station and another state building were burning.
Full Article Here – http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20110227/ts_nm/us_oman_protests