News / Middle East

Libyan Protests Escalate, Spread to Tripoli

Buildings at the entrance to a security forces compound are seen burning in Benghazi on Feb 21 2011
Buildings at the entrance to a security forces compound are seen burning in Benghazi on Feb 21 2011

Multimedia

Audio
Elizabeth Arrott

Witnesses in Tripoli say the Libyan military is firing upon anti-government protesters, as the unrest that began in the east has spread to the capital.   Dozens of people were reported killed Monday, even before the latest crackdown on demonstrators.

The violence is the most serious in Tripoli since the unrest began and appears to mark a rapid escalation.  Amateur video and witness accounts tell of gunfire, looting - allegedly by security forces - and general fear in the city.

Some government buildings are reported to have been set on fire, and anti-government demonstrators said to be rallying across the city.

Information is severely restricted by the Libyan government. The Internet is largely shut down and phone service is curtailed, making reports difficult to verify independently.

In Benghazi, the eastern Libyan city where the protests started, witnesses say anti-government forces have taken control.  Some in the security services are believed to have switched sides.

Amateur video show people described as demonstrators in control of what appears to be military-style weaponry, indicating that they either have been given, or seized, part of the government's arsenal.

VOA Correspondent Elizabeth Arrott speaks with Middle East Monitor Host Susan Yackee:

The protest movement is also said to have spread to several other cities.

One of the sons of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi addressed the nation early Monday.  Saif al-Islam Gadhafi warned of civil war and a fight to the last man if the unrest continues.  The younger Gadhafi blamed Islamic extremists, foreign elements, and criminals of being behind the unrest.  He also warned that continued protests jeopardize revenue from the nation's oil reserves - the largest in Africa.

But Saif al-Islam Gadhafi also spoke about the possibility of reforms, including dialogue and changes to the constitution.

Libya raw protest video:

This has become a familiar step as uprisings against long-serving rulers have spread across North Africa and the Middle East, with timing of such concessions appearing critical to the ability of leaders to withstand popular protests.

In Tunisia and Egypt, anti-government forces rejected offers of reform as too little too late, and their presidents stepped down. In Bahrain, Yemen and Jordan, rulers have tried to meet some of the protesters' demands but it remains unclear what effect they will have.

Moammar Gadhafi has ruled Libya since 1969 and his alleged links to terror groups made Libya for decades a pariah state.  In the past eight years, he has sought to repair his international reputation, but the heavy internal hand of the security apparatus has remained intact.

In the past day, new voices have been added to the uprising.  The influential Warfallah tribe is said to have joined the anti-government movement.  And the nation's representative to the Arab League, Abdel Moneim el Houni, has thrown in his lot with the protesters.

NEW: Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Video Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid