Libya: Update From Western Media

Highlights from reports filed by major media outlets since the speech by Saif al-Gaddafi …

The New York Times:
A five-day-old uprising in Libya took control of its second-largest city of Benghazi and spread for the first time to the capital of Tripoli late on Sunday as the heir-apparent son of its strongman, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, warned Libyans in a televised speech that their oil-rich country would fall into civil war and even renewed Western “colonization” if they threw off his father’s 40-year-long rule.

In a rambling, disjointed address delivered at about 1 a.m. on Monday, the son, Seif al-Islam el-Qaddafi, played down the uprising sweeping the country, which witnesses and rights activists say has left more than 200 people dead and hundreds wounded from gunfire by security forces. He repeated several times that “Libya is not Tunisia or Egypt” — the neighbors to the east and west that both overthrew their veteran autocrats in the space of the last six weeks.

Witnesses in Tripoli interviewed by telephone on Sunday night said protesters were converging on the capital’s central Green Square and clashing with heavily armed riot police. Young men armed themselves with chains around their knuckles, steel pipes and machetes. The police had retreated from some neighborhoods, and protesters were seen armed with police batons, helmets and rifles commandeered from riot squads. The protesters set Dumpsters on fire, blocking roads in some neighborhoods. In the early evening the sound and smells of gunfire hung over the central city, and by midnight looting had begun.

“We will fight until the last man, until the last woman, until the last bullet,” his son said in his televised speech.

Complete article via New York Times.

[Gaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam] vowed to fight until the “last man standing” after scores of protesters were killed in the east of the country.

[He] said in an address on state TV the army stood behind his father as a “leader of the battle in Tripoli” and would enforce security at any price. His comments were the first official reaction from the Libyan authorities since the unrest began.

As he spoke, police used tear gas to disperse thousands of protesters in Tripoli, where gunfire was heard, vehicles were on fire and protesters threw stones at billboards of Gaddafi, who is facing the most serious challenge to his four-decade rule.

Complete article via Reuters

Associated Press:
The Internet has been largely shut down, residents can no longer make international calls from land lines and journalists cannot work freely, but eyewitness reports trickling out of the country suggested that protesters were fighting back more forcefully against the Middle East’s longest-serving leader.

“We are not afraid. We won’t turn back,” said a teacher who identified herself only as Omneya. She said she was marching at the end of the funeral procession on a highway beside the Mediterranean and heard gunfire from two kilometers (just over a mile) away.

“If we don’t continue, this vile man would crush us with his tanks and bulldozers. If we don’t, we won’t ever be free,” she said.

Benghazi is “in a state of war,” said Mohamed Abdul-Rahman, a 42-year-old merchant who described how some protesters burned a police headquarters.

Complete article via Associated Press

As day broke over Tripoli on Monday, the central area appeared quiet, although sporadic bursts of gunfire could still be heard.

On Sunday evening, witnesses spoke of tear gas and live ammunition being used against protesters by the security forces.

Unconfirmed reports that African mercenaries were being deployed against protesters again surfaced, as they have in Benghazi.

In another blow to Col Gaddafi’s rule, representatives of the Warfla tribe, Libya’s biggest, have endorsed the protests.

Complete article via BBC


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