News / Middle East

Libya Faces Widespread Anti-Government Protests

Anti-government protesters make victory signs as they stand on an army tank in Benghazi, February 24, 2011
Anti-government protesters make victory signs as they stand on an army tank in Benghazi, February 24, 2011

Thousands of opposition protesters staged a new push Friday to oust Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, with reports of government forces shooting at demonstrators in the capital Tripoli.

Protesters amassed in cities including Benghazi, where anti-Gadhafi forces appear to be in control. News agencies quote residents as saying forces loyal to Gadhafi opened fire in several districts of Tripoli after protesters began marching in the capital following Friday prayers.

Gadhafi speaks again

Towards dusk, Libyan state television showed Gadhafi addressing supporters in Tripoli.

The impassioned speech was directed at the the country's youth, with the Libyan leader urging them to defend the nation. Gadhafi spoke from a perch above Tripoli's Green Square, telling supporters "I am one of you."  

The address was Gadhafi's third speech this week. In an audio speech carried on state television on Thursday, he accused al-Qaida forces of playing a role in the country's unrest.

Tripoli is the center of the shrinking territory that Gadhafi's regime still controls. The uprising that began last week has put the eastern part of the country under rebel control, and support for the anti-government movement is growing in the west.

On Thursday, an estimated 23 people died as violence broke out in the city of Zawiya, just 50 kilometers west of Tripoli. Heavy fighting also was reported in the city of Misurata.

Reports say a close advisor to Gadhafi has stepped down to protest the bloody crackdown. Ahmed Gadhaf al-Dam is one of the highest level defectors to leave the regime. Many Libyan ambassadors around the world, the justice minister and the interior minister all sided with the protesters.

The force that has attacked rebels on behalf of the government is one that Colonel Gadhafi - distrustful of his own generals - has built up steadily for years. It is made up of special brigades headed by his sons, segments of the military loyal to his native tribe and its allies, and legions of African mercenaries.

Armed militiamen and pro-Gadhafi loyalists are reportedly roaming through Tripoli shooting opponents from sport utility vehicles. Security agents are said to be searching for people considered disloyal to the regime.

Death toll

The overall death toll has been impossible to determine, but is said to be in the hundreds.  Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said Wednesday more than 1,000 people likely have been killed in Libya's week-long uprising. Tens of thousands are fleeing the country - to Tunisia, Egypt and Malta - including members of the government.

Gadhafi's son Saif al-Islam Gadhafi claimed the number of people killed by government crackdowns has been exaggerated.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

Timeline of US-Libya relations

US-Libya Relations on Dipity.

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

You May Like

Nearly 900 Dead, Missing in 2014 Air Disasters

Southeast Asia took a particularly heavy hit; 3 major events involved weather, two planes were shot down in eastern Ukraine, and one crash was attributed to mechanical problems More

Video Islamic State Emergence Transformed Syria, Iraq in 2014

'It was very clear that there were problems building up in Iraq at the end of 2013 but everybody was distracted by Syria,' says one expert, explaining group's rapid rise More

Rights Group: IS Executed Nearly 2,000 in Syria in 6 Months

Islamist group also killed 120 of its own members, most foreign fighters trying to return home, in past two months, according to Syrian Observatory for Human Rights 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.
Russians Head Into Holiday Facing Economic Malaisei
X
Daniel Schearf
December 25, 2014 4:34 PM
Russian preparations for the New Year holiday are clouded by economic recession and a tumbling currency, the ruble. Nonetheless, people in the Russian capital appear to be in a festive mood. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Russians Head Into Holiday Facing Economic Malaise

Russian preparations for the New Year holiday are clouded by economic recession and a tumbling currency, the ruble. Nonetheless, people in the Russian capital appear to be in a festive mood. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Mombasa in Holiday Tourism Slump Due to Security Fears

Kenya's usually popular beachside tourist destination of Mombasa is seeing a much slower holiday season this year due to fears of insecurity as the country has suffered from a string of terror attacks linked to Somali militants. Mohammed Yusuf reports for VOA on how businessmen and tourists feel about the situation.
Video

Video For Somalis, 2014 Marked by Political Instability Within Government

While Somalia has long been torn apart by warfare and violence, this year one of the country's biggest challenges has come from within the government, as political infighting curtails the country's progress, threatens security gains and disappoints the international community. VOA's Gabe Joselow report.
Video

Video 2014 Saw Intensification of Boko Haram Insurgency

The year 2014 saw Nigerian militant sect Boko Haram intensify its five-year insurgency and target civilians in large numbers as it seized territory in the northeast. The kidnapping of nearly 300 schoolgirls in Chibok in April sparked global outrage, but failed to become the turning point against the sect that Nigeria’s president said it would be. The picture at year's end is one of devastation and uncertainty. VOA’s Anne Look reports.
Video

Video Estimates Rising of Foreign Fighters in Iraq, Syria

Foreign fighters are making more of a mark on the battles raging across Syria and Iraq than initially thought. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more.
Video

Video US Political Shift Could Affect Iran Nuclear Talks

Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts to resolve Iran’s nuclear crisis are continuing into 2015 after Iran and six world powers failed to agree by a November deadline. U.S. domestic politics, however, could complicate efforts to reach a deal in the new year. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video NYSE: The Icon of Capitalism

From its humble beginnings in 1792 to its status as an economic bellweather for the world, the New York Stock Exchange is an integral part of the story of America. VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from Wall Street.
Video

Video Syrian Refugees in Lebanon Fight to Survive Water Crisis

In a region choking from dwindling water supplies, Lebanon has long been regarded as one of the few places where there is enough. But in recent years, half the people in the country have faced severe shortages. And the more than 1 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon are hit the worst by the water crisis, making the country's most vulnerable people increasingly impoverished and sick. Heather Murdock reports for VOA in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid