Uprising flares in Libyan city

 

Anti-government protesters in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi have reportedly seized army vehicles and weapons amid worsening turmoil in the African nation.

A local witness said that a section of the troops had joined the protesters on Sunday as chaos swept the streets of the city, worst hit by the uprising against Muammar Gaddafi’s 42-year old rule.

Mohamed, a doctor from Al Jalaa hospital in Benghazi confirmed to Al Jazeera that members of the military had sided with the protesters.

“We are still receiving serious injuries, I can confirm 13 deaths in our hospital. However, the good news is that people are cheering and celebrating outside after receiving news that the army is siding with the people,” he said.

“But there is still a brigade that is against the demonstrators. For the past three days demonstrators have been shot at by this brigade, called Al-Sibyl brigade.”

The witness reports came on a day in which local residents told Al Jazeera that at least 200 people had died in days of unrest in Benghazi alone. The New York-based Human Rights Watch on Sunday put the countrywide death toll at 173. The rights group said its figure was “conservative”.

Police academy ‘ablaze’

News of the death toll came as residents of Benghazi reported renewed gunfire from security forces in the city. Witnesses also told Al Jazeera that a police academy in the city had been set ablaze.

Meanwhile in the capital, Tripoli, supporters of the government took to the streets in large numbers, as security forces prevented others from mounting large demonstrations against Gaddafi.

This came as witnesses told Al Jazeera that anti-government protesters were heading to Gaddafi’s compound in the city of Al-Zawia near Tripoli, with the intention of burning the building down.

Moftah, a resident of Benghazi – Libya’s second largest city – who requested Al Jazeera use only his first name, said the city had become a “war zone” in recent days.

Residents have barricaded the streets with overturned trash cans and debris, and security forces have largely confined themselves to two compounds, though snipers continue to target protesters, he said.

The forces who remain are “thugs” loyal to Gaddafi, Moftah said, and they are firing high-calibre ammunition at protesters.

The eyewitness report came a day after security forces – reportedly backed by foreign mercenaries  – opened fire at a funeral in the eastern coastal city on Saturday, killing at least 15 people and injuring scores more.

Protests have also reportedly broken out in other cities, including Bayda, Derna, Tobruk and Misrata – and anti-Gaddafi graffiti adorns the walls of several cities.

Meanwhile, a group of six alleged mercenaries – reportedly brought in from Tunisia and other African nations to bolster pro-Gaddafi forces – were captured and arrested by demonstrators in the city of Shahat.

Appeal for calm

Against this backdrop of violence, opposition groups said some 50 Libyan Muslim leaders have urged security forces to stop killing civilians.

“This is an urgent appeal from religious scholars, intellectuals, and clan elders from Tripoli, Bani Walid, Zintan, Jadu, Msalata, Misrata, Zawiah, and other towns and villages of the western area,” the appeal, signed by the group of leaders, stated.

“We appeal to every Muslim, within the regime or assisting it in any way, to recognise that the killing of innocent human beings is forbidden by our Creator and by His beloved prophet of compassion, peace be upon him … Do not kill your brothers and sisters. Stop the massacre now!”

Around the world, people have been gathering in solidarity with the protesters at Libyan consulates and at the White House in Washington, DC, the US capital.

European concern

The widening unrest has also prompted calls of concern from European leaders. A spokesman for British foreign secretary William Hague said he was “concerned about the situation in Libya”.

“We condemn the use of heavy weaponry against protesters, and are shocked by the number of deaths,” the spokesman said. “We have had to say very clearly that, just because the news media doesn’t have full access to Libya, the eyes of the world are still upon the Libyan government and how it responds to protests.”

Meanwhile, Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi has come under fire for saying he did not want to “disturb” Gaddafi during the revolt.

“The situation is still in flux and so I will not allow myself to disturb anyone,” he told reporters, prompting a wave of anger from opposition figures, who have accused Berlusconi – whose government has aggressively courted Libyan petrodollars – of turning a blind eye to Gaddafi’s human rights record for the sake of lucrative contracts.

Libya’s government has responded to the criticism, by threatening retaliation against the European Union.  It said on Sunday that it would stop co-operating with efforts to try and stop illegal migrants heading to Europe.

Communication cut

Verifying news from Libya has been difficult since the protests began, because of restrictions on journalists entering the country, as well as internet and mobile phone blackouts imposed by the government.

The Libyan government has blocked Al Jazeera’s TV signal in the country – and residents have also reported that the network’s website is inaccessible from there. It is understood, however, people have been using alternate satellite providers in order to access the channel.

In addition to TV signal jamming, internet service has been cut, said a US company that monitors web traffic.

Massachusetts-based Arbor Networks said data collected from 30 internet service providers worldwide showed that online traffic in and out of Libya was disconnected abruptly at  2:15am local time on Saturday. The data also showed two partial service interruptions earlier in the day.

As of Sunday, it was still possible to reach Libyans by phone, and some in Tripoli had internet access.

Source

It is a travesty what is being done in Libya.  But I don’t think very many would be surprised about the way that Qadaffi is handling this.  The last time I saw him, he would have been an inspiration to Keith Richards.  Dirty and disheveled would have been an improvement, and he was staked out in a tent on Donald Trumps (of all people) lawn.

As a tyrant, there were none that were more prodigious.  He was the crazy, little sawed off prick back before there even was a Kim Jung Il.  And only a fool would believe his “kindness” in recent years was anything other than self preservation.

After what we have seen in other Middle Eastern nations, I am hopeful that The People will win out in the end…but it is going to be bloody, apparently, in Libya.

Something to point out, stated in the above story:

“This is an urgent appeal from religious scholars, intellectuals, and clan elders from Tripoli, Bani Walid, Zintan, Jadu, Msalata, Misrata, Zawiah, and other towns and villages of the western area,” the appeal, signed by the group of leaders, stated.

“We appeal to every Muslim, within the regime or assisting it in any way, to recognise that the killing of innocent human beings is forbidden by our Creator and by His beloved prophet of compassion, peace be upon him … Do not kill your brothers and sisters. Stop the massacre now!”

This does not mesh with the bloodthirsty image put forth of these people in the media.  Reading the above, honestly, brought a tear to my eye.  No matter how much our “leaders” may try to convince us, you cannot overcome that at its heart, people are the same wherever you go.

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One Response to “Uprising flares in Libyan city”

  1. Breanna Delmonte Says:

    Interesting information as per usual, ty. I do hope this kind of thing gets more eyeballs.

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