Eyewitnesses report forces loyal to embattled Libyan leader Colonel Moammar Gadhafi
still hold small chunks of territory in and around the capital Tripoli, amid a steady stream of defections by former officials and supporters.
Joyous residents of the town of Misrata, close to the capital Tripoli, honk their car horns to celebrate their recent victory over government forces. Al-Jazeera TV, however, reports government forces are still present along the coast, preventing other insurgents from approaching the town.
Meanwhile, al-Arabiya TV showed images of insurgents chanting and shaking their fists in the central square of the nearby town of Zawiya. Eyewitnesses said forces loyal to Libyan leader Colonel Moammar Gadhafi were eyeing the situation from the outskirts. No fighting was reported.
Al-Arabiya TV reported earlier that the embattled Libyan leader was holed up in Tripoli’s Bab al Aziziya military camp with his closest advisors. Eyewitnesses said armored personnel carriers and soldiers manning rocket launchers are protecting the base. A Tripoli resident also told the French Press Agency the government is sending out text messages offering $400, in a bid to bribe the people.
As diplomatic initiatives continued, U.S. President Barack Obama urged Colonel Gadhafi
to resign immediately. Italy’s Foreign Minister Franco Frattini also told journalists that Gadhafi’s fall was "just a matter of time." The Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamid bin Khalifa al Thani, also pleaded with the colonel to act quickly to prevent further bloodbath.
He says that the situation in Libya is a matter that concerns only the Libyan people and we hope they find a way to spare everyone a bloodbath. He also urges Colonel Ghadafi to help solve the problem quickly so that no more blood is spilled.
A steady stream of Libyan military commanders, former top officials and diplomats continued to defect to the side of the insurgents. Most pledged loyalty to what they called the "people’s revolution," in videos shown on both al-Arabiya TV and al-Jazeera TV.
In Tunisia, where popular protests toppled veteran President Zein al Abdine ben Ali last month, interim Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi announced his resignation, insisting that he hoped it would "help his successor work to solve the country's problems."
Anti-government protestors chant slogans during a demonstration demanding the resignation of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, in Sanaa, Yemen, February 24, 2011
Elsewhere, popular protests against Yemeni President Ali Abdallah Saleh continued across the country. Saleh vowed to defend his regime, saying the country’s military forces would keep the peace.
He says Yemen’s armed forces bear the responsibility for security under the difficult circumstances of the moment and he is confident they will maintain the peace, and defend the security and unity of the country.
In the Gulf state of Oman, eyewitnesses say security forces opened fire on protesters who tried to storm a police station, killing several. And in Iraq, Parliament Speaker Osama Nujeify blasted government security forces for driving their vehicles through a group of protesters Friday, injuring several.
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