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    Libya protests spread and intensify


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    Libya protests spread and intensify

    Post by sicran on 14/3/2011, 8:32 am

    Protests against Gaddafi's rule have prompted harsh reprisals in several cities, including the capital Tripoli [Reuters]

    Scores of people have been reported killed in continuing violence in
    the Libyan capital, Tripoli, amid escalating protests against Muammar
    Gaddafi's 40-year rule across the north African nation.
    Deep cracks were showing and Gaddafi seemed to be losing vital
    support, as Libyan government officials at home and abroad resigned, air
    force pilots defected and major government buildings were targeted
    during clashes in the capital.
    At least 61 people were killed in Tripoli on Monday, witnesses told
    Al Jazeera. The protests appeared to be gathering momentum, with
    demonstrators saying they had taken control of several important towns
    and the city of Benghazi, to the east of Tripoli.
    Protesters called on Monday for another night of defiance against Gaddafi, despite a harsh security crackdown by his government.
    A huge anti-government march in Tripoli on Monday afternoon came
    under attack by security forces using fighter jets and live ammunition,
    witnesses told Al Jazeera.
    Libyan authorities have cut all landline and wireless communication in the country, making it impossible to verify the report.
    As violence flared, the Reuters news agency quoted William Hague,
    the British foreign secretary, as saying he had seen some information to
    suggest that Gaddafi had fled Libya and was on his way to Venezuela.
    But Al Jazeera's Dima Khatib, reporting from the Venezuelan capital,
    Caracas, said government officials there denied that Gaddafi was on his
    way to the South American country.The Libyan deputy foreign minister also denied that Gaddafi had fled the country.
    With reports of large-scale military operations under way in Tripoli,
    a spokesperson for Ban Ki-moon said the UN chief held extensive
    discussions with Gaddafi on Monday, condemned the escalating violence
    in Libya and told him that it "must stop immediately”." ... The secretary-general underlined the need to ensure the
    protection of the civilian population under any circumstances. He urged
    all parties to exercise restraint and called upon the authorities to
    engage in broad-based dialogue to address legitimate concerns of the
    population,” Ban's spokesperson said.
    For this part, several Libyan diplomats at the country's UN mission called on Gaddafi to step down.
    Ibrahim Dabbashi, the deputy ambassador, said that if Gaddafi did not
    relinquish power, "the Libyan people [would] get rid of him”.
    "We don't agree with anything the regime is doing ... we are here to serve the Libyan people," he told Al Jazeera.
    Dabbashi urged the international community to impose a no-fly zone
    over Libya to prevent mercenaries, weapons and other supplies from
    reaching Gaddafi and his security forces.
    He said the Libyan diplomats were urging the International Criminal
    Court, the Netherlands-based body, to investigate possible crimes
    against humanity in the Libyan context.
    Arab League to meet
    Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr Al-Thani, Qatar's prime minister and
    foreign minister, called for an extraordinary meeting of the Arab League
    to take place on Tuesday. The aim is to discuss the current crisis in
    Libya and to put additional "pressure" on the government, he told Al
    Talking to Al Jazeera, Libya's deputy ambassador to the UN Ibrahim Dabbashi condemns Gaddafi's regime
    Hamad bin Jassim said the international community must act now. "I
    feel a big sympathy for the Libyan people. We don't accept using force
    in this way or any way against the people or against any nation from
    their governments," he said.
    "And we make our declaration in this space and we think that the
    international community should also take a stand against what is
    happening in Libya at the moment."
    "I think the [UN] Security Council has to play a role. The
    condemnation is not enough ... I think the five permanent members and
    others, they should take the responsibility and do something to help the
    civillian people in Libya, because what is happening is not acceptable
    in any way."
    Earlier in on Monday, Ahmed Elgazir, a
    human-rights researcher at the Libyan News Centre (LNC) in Geneva,
    Switzerland, told Al Jazeera that security forces were "massacring"
    protesters in Tripoli.
    Elgazir said the LNC received a call for help from a woman
    "witnessing the massacre in progress who called on a satellite phone".Earlier, a privately run local newspaper reported that the Libyan
    justice minister had resigned over the use of deadly force against
    Speaking to Al Jazeera, Ahmad Jibreel, a Libyan diplomat, confirmed
    that the justice minister, Mustapha Abdul Jalil, had sided with the
    "I was speaking to the minister of justice just a few minutes ago ...
    he told me personally, he told me he had joined the supporters. He is
    trying to organise good things in all cities," he said.

    Jibreel further said that key cities near Libya's border with Egypt
    were now in the hands of protesters, which he said would enable
    the foreign media to enter the country.
    "Gaddafi's guards started shooting people in the second day ... when
    they killed two people, we had more than 5,000 at their funeral,
    and when they killed 15 people the next day, we had more than 50,000 the
    following day," he said, adding "the more Gaddafi kills people, the
    more people go into the streets."
    Pilots defect
    In another development on Monday, two Libyan air force jets landed in
    Malta and their pilots asked for political asylum, according to
    a military source.
    The pilots, who made an unauthorised landing in Malta, claimed to
    have defected after failing to follow orders to attack civilians
    protesting in Benghazi in Libya, Karl Stagno-Navarra, an Al Jazeera
    contributor, said from Valletta.
    The pilots, who claimed to be colonels in the Libyan air force, were
    being questioned by authorities in an attempt to verify their
    The two Mirage jets landed at Malta's international airport shortly
    after two civilian helicopters landed carrying seven people who said
    they were French. Only one of the passengers had a passport.

    Al Jazeera and agencies


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