Libya unrest: 200 protesters killed so far

Last Updated: Monday, February 21, 2011 - 00:03

Cairo: A doctor in the Libyan city of Benghazi says his hospital has seen the bodies of at least 200 protesters killed by Moammar Gadhafi`s forces over the last few days. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he fears reprisal.

Witnesses told The Associated Press a mix of special commandos, foreign mercenaries and Gadhafi loyalists assaulted demonstrators on Saturday with knives, assault rifles and heavy weapons. Those protesters were burying 35 marchers who were slain Friday by government forces.

Benghazi has been a center of a six-day revolt by Libyans inspired by uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia and frustrated by Gadhafi`s more than 40 years of authoritarian rule.

The doctor said the hospital, one of two in Libya`s second-largest city, is out of supplies and cannot treat more than 70 wounded who were hit in the attacks and need attention.

"I am crying," the doctor said. "Why is the world not listening?"

Getting concrete details about the protests in Libya has been difficult because journalists cannot work freely inside the country. Information about the uprising has come through telephone interviews, along with videos and messages posted online, and through opposition activists in exile.

The US-based Arbor Networks reported another Internet service outage in Libya just before midnight Saturday night. The company says online traffic ceased in Libya about 2 a.m. Saturday, was restored at reduced levels several hours later, only to be cut off again that night.

People in Libya also said they can no longer make telephone calls on their land lines.
According to several accounts, police in Benghazi initially followed orders Saturday to act against the protesters, but later joined with them because they belong to the same tribe and saw foreign mercenaries taking part in the killings.

"People are defiant here and they are ready to die," said a women on the phone from Benghazi. She spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal, as did other witnesses.

Before Saturday`s violence, Human Rights Watch estimated at least 84 people had been killed in anti-Gadhafi unrest.

Abdullah said smaller protests were staged Saturday night on the outskirts of the capital Tripoli, a stronghold of support for Gadhafi, but demonstrators were quickly dispersed by security men. Besides Tripoli and Benghazi, the nation`s second-largest city, the U.S. State Department in a travel warning to American citizens listed five other cities that have seen demonstrations.

Supporters of the Libyan uprising also demonstrated in Switzerland and in Washington on Saturday, waving flags and burning Gadhafi`s photo.

Bureau Report



First Published: Monday, February 21, 2011 - 00:03

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