e-cigarette review NEWS: Dozens killed in Libyan capital as Arab leaders struggle to calm unrest

Monday, February 21, 2011

Dozens killed in Libyan capital as Arab leaders struggle to calm unrest

SANAA, YEMEN - Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi's regime showed more signs of crumbling Monday following a volatile night in which dozens were reportedly killed in the capital and Gaddafi's son and heir-apparent declared in a televised speech that the North African nation could fall into anarchy if his father was ousted.
By Monday morning, the six-day-old uprising had reached the capital, Tripoli, amid reports of buildings being set ablaze and looting in some neighborhoods. In Libya's second-largest city of Benghazi, anti-government demonstrators celebrated on the streets, as reports grew that the city was now under their control.
Tribal leaders railed against Gaddafi while reports swirled of soldiers defecting from their units to the opposition. There were also reports of senior Libyan officials resigning from their posts, outraged by the killings carried out by security forces.
At least 61 people had been killed in the protests overnight in Tripoli, al-Jazeera television reported, quoting medical sources. It also reported that security forces were looting banks and other government building in Tripoli and that protesters had ransacked several police stations. Protesters also set ablaze the building used by Libya's parliament when it is in session, Reuters reported.
Ali al-Essawi, Libya's ambassador to India, resigned from his post Monday and called for Gaddafi to step down. He also accused the regime of deploying foreign mercenaries against the protesters.
Over the weekend, security forces in Benghazi opened fire on mourners attending funeral marches for 84 protesters killed the day before, their harshest response yet to the recent round of demonstrations. They also swiftly clamped down on smaller uprisings that spread to the outskirts of the capital, Tripoli, where protesters seized military bases and weapons. The outbreak of protests there signaled a new threat to the regime.
Unrest across the region
As fresh protests erupted across the Middle East and North Africa over the weekend, embattled leaders in the region struggled to contain their discontented masses, deploying a wide variety of tactics - from offers of dialogue to brutal crackdowns - to suppress the pro-democracy forces unleashed by the revolts in Tunisia and Egypt.
Protests also broke out Sunday in Morocco and Tunisia, posing new challenges to their rulers, while authorities in Iran and Bahrain continued to confront calls for reform.
By late Sunday, the number of those killed in the uprising across Libya had soared to at least 233, most of them in Benghazi, according to Human Rights Watch. Other news reports placed the death toll at 200 or much higher.
U.S. and European Union officials on Sunday condemned Libya's crackdown and called for an end to the violence. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said the United States is "gravely concerned" and has received "multiple credible reports that hundreds of people have been killed and injured." Many of the victims had been killed with machine guns, witnesses said.
The scope of the turmoil in Libya is impossible to verify. Authorities have denied access to foreign journalists and have periodically cut off the Internet and phone lines. But the unfolding situation in Libya could mark the most brutal attempt to suppress the anti-government protests sweeping across the Arab world.
Residents and activists describe a volatile landscape that is increasingly isolated from the world and becoming bloodier and more chaotic by the day. The protesters seek the ouster of Gaddafi, who has ruled for more than four decades.


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