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US: Gadhafi Must Stop 'Bloodshed'

US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton (file photo)

The United States has condemned the violence against anti-government protesters in Libya and called on Moammar Gadhafi's government to stop the "unacceptable bloodshed" taking place in the North African nation.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Monday the world is watching events unfold in Libya "with alarm." Her statement came amid reports from the Libyan capital, Tripoli, that helicopters and warplanes were besieging parts of the city and foreign mercenaries had begun to open fire on protesters.

Qatar's prime minister told the satellite television channel Al Jazeera the international community must act immediately to end the crackdown. Hamad bin Jasim bin Jabr al-Thani called for an Arab League meeting Tuesday to discuss the crisis in Libya. The group's secretary-general, Amr Moussa, demanded an end to the violence, saying he sees the Libyan protesters' demands as legitimate.

Also Monday, an international coalition of more than two dozen rights groups urged the United Nations to take action protecting Libyan civilians from "crimes against humanity." In a letter sent the U.S., EU and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the groups called for immediate international action "to halt the mass atrocities now being perpetrated by the Libyan government against its own people." The group asked the U.N. to eject Libya from the Geneva-based Human Rights Council.

Earlier, Mr. Ban spoke by phone with the Libyan leader and expressed deep concern at the escalating violence. The U.N. says Mr. Ban urged respect for basic freedoms and human rights, and underlined the need to ensure the protection of the civilian population under any circumstances.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said Monday the Libyan central government's deadly crackdown on anti-government protests is "completely appalling and unacceptable," using the "most vicious forms of repression." French President Nicolas Sarkozy condemned what he called the "unacceptable use of force" in Libya and called for an "immediate end" to the violence.

In Brussels, a European Union official said Libya has threatened the EU it will stop curbing illegal migration from North Africa to Europe if the bloc continues to support anti-government protests.

Italy is particularly concerned about the prospect of an influx of migrants as it is already a popular entry point for North Africans seeking a better life in Europe. Thousands of North African migrants have sailed to the Italian island of Lampedusa since the ouster of Tunisia's president last month.

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