Monday, February 21, 2011

Libyan protest now also raging in capital Tripoli, airforce strafed protesters

Seif al-Islam Qadhafi on state tv
 The uprising in Libya, which until yesterday mainly taking place in the east of the country,  has reached the capital Tripoli. It thereby raises the possibility that the regime of colonel Muammar Qadhafi is in serious danger.
Heavy fighting was reported from the capital, which culiminated in the incredible news that Qadhafi's airforce was used to shoot and even bomb protesters.  Dozens of people were already reported killed in Tripoli before that, after demonstrations in the capital started last  night. The building where the country's parliament meets was ablaze, and there were reports that people tried to attack the building of state television.
Protesters said they had taken control of two other cities.Tribal leaders spoke out against Gaddafi, army units defected to the opposition in a revolt that has cost the lives of more than 200 people. Two colonels of the airforce defected with their planes to Malta after they got orders to bomb protesters in Benghazi. Also scores of representatives of the regime resigned, among them the minister of justice, the Libyan team at the UN, and the Libyan ambassadors to India, Bagladesh, Indonesia, Sweden, Britain, the Arab Ligue, and China.
Output at one of the country's oil fields was reported to have been stopped by a workers' strike and some European oil companies withdrew expatriate workers and suspended operations.

Human Rights Watch reported on Monday that the death toll stood at at least 233. It is bound to be much higher by Monday evening. HRW said the it has witness accounts of how security forces in Benghazi started to use live ammunition on protesters on 19 Februari. That day the funeral procession took place for 14 people killed the day before. Followed by thousands of protesters, the  procession walked from the square in front of the Benghazi court to the Hawari cemeteries. On the way the marchers passed the Katiba El Fadil Bu Omar, a complex that includes one of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's residences and is heavily guarded by state security officers. Three eyewitnesses confirmed that the security officers in distinctive uniform with yellow berets fired indiscriminately on protesters. One protester, A.G., told Human Rights Watch, "it was at this stage that they opened fire on us. We were walking along peacefully but were chanting angrily against the regime and Gaddafi."
Another lawyer who was at the protests said to Human Rights Watch, "I could see the men with yellow berets shooting at us with live gunfire, and dozens fell to the ground. This went on for a long period of time, and I left with the injured to the hospital."
On Sunday evening one of  Qadhafi´s sons, Seif al-Islam, appeared on state tv and promised to fight the protests to the last man or woman: "Our spirits are high and the leader Muammar Qadhafi is leading the battle in Tripoli, and we are behind him as is the Libyan army," he said. "We will keep fighting until the last man standing, even to the last woman standing ... We will not leave Libya to the Italians or the Turks.Wagging a finger at the camera, he blamed Libyan exiles for fomenting the violence. But he also promised dialogue on reforms and wage rises.

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