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February 18, 2011

3 Djibouti Opposition Leaders Detained

Authorities in Djibouti have detained three top opposition leaders, a day after protesters demanded the departure of President Ismail Omar Guelleh.

Djibouti's chief prosecutor, Djama Souleiman, says Aden Robleh, Mohamed Daoud and Ismail Guedi were taken into custody Saturday.

Souleiman told the French news agency (AFP)  the three were detained in connection with violent clashes Friday between protesters and security forces.

On Friday, police in Djibouti fired tear gas at protestors to break up a rally modeled after the demonstrations across north Africa and the Middle East.  Witnesses say thousands of people turned out for Friday's protest in the small east African country.

President Guelleh oversaw a change to Djibouti's constitution last year that allows him to seek a third term in elections in April.

Students in Djibouti held smaller protests earlier this month. The Horn of Africa nation lies across the Gulf of Aden from Yemen, where protestors have been holding anti-government demonstrations for more than a week.  Djibouti hosts a large French military contingent and the only U.S. military base in sub-Saharan Africa.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.