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Middle East

Jordan: Anti-regime demonstrators beaten by thugs

Thugs wielding batons turned on anti-government marchers in Amman yesterday as the country's political protests turned violent.

Protesters claimed they were attacked as they started to disperse after a march calling for an elected government and an end to official corruption.

Police said the clashes broke out when pro- and anti-regime groups converged. Dissenters have been calling for economic and political reform since mid-January, but they have stopped short of directly challenging King Abdullah II.

The king sacked his entire cabinet last month, in an effort to soften the protests, but many were dismayed by his appointment of Marouf Bakhit as the new premier, a man known as a steady hand in a crisis rather than as a reformer.