Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Gaddafi forces continue attacks; in Yemen protests grow in intensity

Colonel Gaddafi has again blamed outside forces for the fighting that takes place in Libya. In a defiant and rambling address on State TV , Gaddafi warned of a plot to colonise Libya.  As proof, he said his security forces have captured several foreigners during one raid on Tuesday.
'Yesterday, the mosque that the security forces regained power over, they had in this mosque, they had weapons and alcohol as well. Some of them come from Afghanistan, some of them come from Egypt, some of them come from Algeria, just to misguide our children," Gaddafi said.
The city of Zawiya, which fell to the rebels two weeks ago, is almost completely cut off by government forces. However, there were reports of heavy shelling and considerable loss of life, as anti-government forces tried to repel a huge onslaught by pro-Gaddafi troops.
One resident spoke of seeing 50 tanks and dozens of pick-up trucks loaded with pro-Gaddafi troops. The main hospital was said to have been overwhelmed with casualties.
"I don't know how many are dead - they tore Zawiya down to ashes," a source in the town told the BBC.
In eastern Libya, rebel forces in the oil port of Ras Lanuf came under frequent air and artillery attacks. At least 30 people were reported injured.
Calls for military intervention are growing as pro-Gaddafi forces step up their counter-offensive.
However, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has cautioned that any decision to impose a no-fly zone over Libya should be made by the UN and not by Washington.
The opposition has said that it will wave an eventual persecution of Gaddafi for the crimes he committed if he sops fighting and leaves the counbtry within 72 hours. "If he leaves Libya immediately, during 72 hours, and stops the bombardment, we as Libyans will step back from pursuing him for crimes," Mustafa Abdel Jalil, head of the opposition National Council, told Al Jazeera on Tuesday.

Yemen: attack on student protest
The Yemeni government escalated its efforts to stop mass protests calling for the president's ouster on Tuesday, with soldiers firing rubber bullets and tear gas at students camped at a university in the capital. The raid left at least 98 people wounded, AP reported. The students at Sanaa University have been sleeping on campus since mid-February, shortly after the start of the protests calling for president Ali Abdallah Saleh to step down. Medical officials said many of the 98 people wounded were in serious condition.
Several hours earlier inmates rioted at the central prison in Sanaa, taking a dozen guards hostage and calling for President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down. One prisoner was killed, 80 people were wounded as the guards fought to control the situation.
 In a sign that the protests are gaining traction, graffiti calling for Saleh to step down surfaced Tuesday in his birthplace, village of Sanhan, for the first time. Demonstrations also continued elsewhere. In Aden in the south, a crowd of women joined a demonstration after a young protester was shot in the head and critically wounded during a rally there the previous day.  In Ibb province tens of thousands took to the streets calling on the government to bring to justice those responsible for a deadly attack there Sunday. Opposition activists blamed "government thugs" who descended on protesters camped out on a main square. One person was killed in that violence and 53 people were hurt.
Saleh called on Monday for national dialogue after meetings with the country's top political and security chiefs. The state-run news agency said the conference would be held Thursday.Opposition representatives have said that there will be no dialogue unless Saleh promises to step down by the end of the year.

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