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AFGHANISTAN: Gates gets rosy picture on the war

The Taliban are reeling. U.S. and Afghan troops are clicking. The war is going really well. That's what Pentagon chief Robert Gates heard in two days with troops and commanders. Much less clear: the hoped-for advances in the Afghan government's ability to provide basic services and extend its authority beyond Kabul, just months before the American troop drawdown begins. Gates visited some of the most hotly contested parts of the country, where the effects of President Barack Obama's 30,000-troop surge have been most keenly felt, as the administration considers where to begin withdrawing and thinning out U.S. forces. "The closer you are to the fight, the better it looks," Gates told reporters at a U.S. combat outpost in Kandahar province.

YEMEN: Soldiers fire on protesting students

The government escalated its efforts to stop mass protests calling for the president's ouster, with soldiers firing rubber bullets and tear gas Tuesday at students camped at a university in a raid that left at least 98 people wounded, officials said. The army stormed the Sa'na University campus hours after inmates rioted at the central prison in the capital, taking a dozen guards hostage and calling for President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down. One prisoner was killed and 80 people were wounded as the guards fought to control the situation, police said. Graffiti calling for Saleh to step down surfaced Tuesday in his birthplace village of Sanhan. Medical officials said many of the 98 people wounded in the campus attack were in serious condition. Witnesses reported armored vehicles and personnel carriers headed to the area of the university. "It's a massacre," said opposition spokesman Muhammad Qahtan. "It is a crime by security troops against students engaged in a peaceful sit-in."

EGYPT: Men harass marching women

Women hoping to extend their rights in post-revolutionary Egypt encountered a harsh reality Tuesday when a mob of angry men beat and sexually assaulted a group of marchers in Tahrir Square calling for political and social equality, witnesses said. "Everyone was chased. Some were beaten. They were touching us everywhere," said Dina Abou Elsoud, 35, a hostel owner and organizer of the ambitiously named Million Woman March. She was among a half-dozen women who said they were repeatedly groped by men, a common form of intimidation here. None reported serious injuries.


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