Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Libya on the Brink as Gadhafi battles for control



Libyan ruler Col Muammar Gaddafi is battling to retain control of Tripoli and areas in western Libya as protesters consolidated gains in the east and foreigners continued to flee.
Much of the capital is deserted as pro-Gaddafi gunmen roam the streets, with reports of uprisings in western towns such as Misurata, Sabratha and Zawiya.
Masses of protesters have been celebrating success in eastern towns.
Thousands of foreigners continue to leave, with chaos at Tripoli airport.
At least 300 people have died in the country's uprising.
Col Gaddafi's son, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, went on television on Wednesday evening to say that everything was "normal", Reuters reported.
"The ports, schools and airports are all open," he said. "The problem lies in the eastern regions. Life is normal. Brothers, Libyans should come together in this national battle."
'Many deaths'
An eyewitness in Tripoli said that the city was virtually closed, with many people hoping protesters and defecting soldiers would arrive from the east to help them.

There are mounting accounts of what appears to be killings by paramilitary troops and bodies being immediately dumped in their trucks or cars, as well as all the evidence of shooting being cleared, bullet shells being picked up and blood washed down with water in the street.
There was one such case reported in front of the state television headquarters. Four people were killed there and one of them was shot at point blank range.
All banks and shops remain closed. There was a text message that was sent out on Wednesday morning to users of state mobile phone networks telling everyone, civil servants and private workers, to go back to work.
But all foreign companies have halted operations and the people here don't understand how they can be expected to go to work because of the dangers of travel.


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