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Bloodshed in Libya, moves for talks in Bahrain

Security forces in the Libyan city of Benghazi killed dozens of people as they fought to crush an uprising against leader Muammar Gaddafi’s rule, the bloodiest of multiple revolts now rocking the Arab world.

Witnesses said Benghazi was in a state of chaos, with government buildings ransacked and troops and police forced to retreat to a fortified compound, from where snipers picked off demonstrators.

In the Gulf kingdom of Bahrain, thousands of anti-government protesters camped over Saturday night in a Manama square. But after days of violence in the Sunni-ruled island state, the mood appeared to be more conciliatory with talks due to take place on Sunday between the opposition and the crown prince.

Unrest also hit Yemen, Morocco, Oman, Kuwait, Algeria and Djibouti over the weekend as people took to the streets demanding political and economic change. Authorities in Saudi Arabia detained activists trying to set up the kingdom’s first political party.

The clamor for reform across a region of huge strategic importance to the West and the source of much of its oil began in Tunisia in December. The overthrow of President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali then inspired Egyptians to rise up against strongman Hosni Mubarak, sending him packing on February 11.

The tide has challenged leaders of countries long backed by the West as well as erstwhile enemies. While each has its own dynamics, from religion to tribalism, all seem united by frustration over economic hardship and a lack of political freedom.


In Libya, Gaddafi responded to the biggest challenge of his four decades in power with ruthless force. New York-based Human Rights Watch said security forces had shot dead at least 104 people, based on interviews with witnesses and hospital officials.

“We are in the midst of a massacre here,” a witness told Reuters in Benghazi.

The situation was confused as the Libyan government has restricted media access and blocked some communications, including the Internet.

However, protesters appeared to have taken over much of Benghazi and security forces had retreated a fortified compound in the town center, from where snipers were shooting at people.

“Right now, the only military presence in Benghazi is confined to the Command Center Complex in the city. The rest of the city is liberated,” one witness said late on Saturday.

“Thousands and thousands of people have gathered in front of Benghazi’s court house. All the (local government) offices and police stations in the city have been burned.”

Benghazi and the surrounding area have been the focus of the Libyan unrest. But posts on social network sites, which could not be verified, referred to minor clashes in the capital Tripoli and of overnight gunfire in Nalut, to the west.

Nonetheless, Libya watchers said an Egyptian-style nationwide revolt was unlikely as regional grievances were a factor in the unrest.

Gaddafi traditionally has less support in the east than in the rest of the country, where he is respected by many despite the lack of Western-style democracy. And Libya’s oil wealth allows him to spread largesse to smooth over social problems.


2 Comments on "Bloodshed in Libya, moves for talks in Bahrain"

  1. Harquebus on Mon, 21st Feb 2011 10:50 am 

    If I was stupid enough to install that Flash crap, I could watch the video but, I ain’t that stupid.

  2. Lorne Marr on Wed, 23rd Feb 2011 4:06 am 

    Gaddfai’s only advantage is that he will have more time to find the best option to leave the country with a lot of money in his pockets.

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