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Libyans Call for Gadhafi's Departure

Anti-Gadhafi protest in Benghazi, Libya, March 11, 2011
Anti-Gadhafi protest in Benghazi, Libya, March 11, 2011

Thousands of Libyans have poured onto the streets in the eastern city of Benghazi where they renewed calls for the resignation of leader Moammar Gadhafi.

The demonstration in Libya's second largest city began after Friday prayers. Some protesters carried banners thanking France for its decision to recognize opposition leaders.

News-agency, AFP report says a Libyan fighter jet carried out fresh airstrikes on Friday near the eastern oil port Ras Lanuf. On Thursday, rebels retreated from their stronghold in the town, after pro-Gadhafi forces launched air, land and sea attacks to regain control.

The rebel leadership also acknowledged on Thursday that the western town Zawiya, near the capital, Tripoli, was back in the hands of government loyalists.

The International Committee of the Red Cross says Libya has descended into civil war, and that the conflict has so far killed more than 1,000 people and caused more than 250,000 Libyans to flee the country.

New details are coming in also about the economic effect of the turmoil. The French oil giant Total said Friday that Libya's oil production continues to decline steadily. Total's chief executive, Christophe de Margerie, said Libya's previous daily production level of about 1.6 million barrels of oil is now down to 200,000 to 300,000 barrels per day.

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

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