Quantcast
Connect with us

Libyan protesters occupy several cities, launch counter-attacks on police, military

Published

on

Dictator rumored to have fled country for Venezuela, but details remain scarce

CAIRO (AFP) – Protesters Monday overran several Libyan cities and regime stalwarts began defecting as the pillars of Moamer Kadhafi’s hardline rule were targeted in Tripoli amid reports he had fled the country.

Cities including Benghazi in the east had fallen to demonstrators opposing Kadhafi’s 41-year-old regime after military units deserted, said the Paris-based International Federation for Human Rights (IFHR).

ADVERTISEMENT

With gunfire crackling in the streets of Tripoli, protesters also attacked police stations and the offices of the state broadcaster, Kadhafi’s mouthpiece, as well as setting government buildings ablaze.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon told Kadhafi in a phone call that the violence “must stop immediately” and called for a broad-based dialogue, a UN spokesman said.

In Brussels, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Kadhafi may be heading to Venezuela, citing “information that suggests he is on his way,” but Caracas quickly denied this.

US President Barack Obama was “considering all appropriate actions” on Libya, as Washington ordered out all non-essential staff and warned Americans to avoid travel to the north African country.

Two Libyan warplanes with four personnel on board who said they had escaped Benghazi air base after it was overrun by protesters landed in Malta, military sources told AFP.

ADVERTISEMENT

Italy put all military air bases on maximum alert after the Libyan fighters landed, ANSA news agency reported.

Two civilian helicopters also arrived in Malta with seven people who said they were French and worked on oil rigs near Benghazi, the Maltese sources said.

Libyan state television said security forces were battling “dens of terrorists” in a sweep that has killed a number of people, without specifying where this was or who was being targeted.

ADVERTISEMENT

State television reported that Kadhafi’s son, Seif al-Islam, had set up a commission to probe “the sad events currently taking place in Libya,” and that it would include “members of Libyan and foreign rights organisations.”

He had already appeared on television overnight to warn that the country faced civil war.

ADVERTISEMENT

“Libya is at a crossroads. If we do not agree today on reforms… rivers of blood will run through Libya,” he said in a fiery but rambling speech that betrayed a note of desperation within his father’s regime.

“We will take up arms… we will fight to the last bullet. We will destroy seditious elements. If everybody is armed, it is civil war, we will kill each other… Libya is not Egypt, it is not Tunisia.”

IFHR head Souhayr Belhassen said protesters had control of Benghazi, Sirte, Tobruk in the east, as well as Misrata, Khoms, Tarhounah, Zenten, Al-Zawiya and Zouara, closer to the capital.

ADVERTISEMENT

Witnesses in Sirte denied that Kadhafi’s coastal hometown was under the control of protesters, but others in Al-Zawiya told AFP that police had fled that city.

The IFHR said that besides soldiers and diplomats, other senior regime officials had also defected to the side of protesters, demanding that Kadhafi go after more than 41 years in power.

It said the protests had resulted in up to 400 deaths. Human Rights Watch earlier cited a death toll of 233.

Protesters in the capital attacked the state broadcaster’s offices and overnight set alight branches of the People’s Committees that are the mainstay of Kadhafi’s regime, witnesses told AFP.

ADVERTISEMENT

Broadcasts on both channels interrupted on Sunday evening resumed on Monday.

“Protesters burned and ransacked the ministry of interior building,” in central Tripoli, one witness told AFP by email.

Earlier, heavy gunfire erupted in central Tripoli and other city areas for the first time since the uprising began in eastern Libya, witnesses and an AFP journalist reported.

“When we heard the unrest was approaching, we stocked up on flour and tomatoes. It’s definitely the end of the regime. This has never happened in Libya before. We are praying that it ends quickly,” a resident of a suburb east of Tripoli told AFP in Cairo by telephone.

ADVERTISEMENT

Seif al-Islam Kadhafi, 38, who holds no formal government post but wields vast influence as heir apparent, suggested that Benghazi was out of government control.

“At this moment there are tanks being driven by civilians in Benghazi,” he said, insisting that the uprising was aimed at installing Islamist rule and that it would be ruthlessly crushed.

Libya’s justice minister, Mustapha Abdeljalil, resigned in objection to “the excessive use of force” against demonstrators, the Quryna newspaper website reported.

In Cairo, Libya’s Arab League envoy said he had resigned to “join the revolution.”

Tripoli’s ambassador to Delhi also quit, as did a lower-level diplomat in Beijing, Al-Jazeera television reported.

ADVERTISEMENT

Oil prices soared above $105 per barrel on the turmoil, and the Fitch agency downgraded Libya’s debt rating a notch from BBB+ to BBB, adding that a further drop was likely.

British energy giant BP said it was preparing to evacuate some staff from Libya, which holds Africa’s biggest oil reserves, and French oil giant Total said it was repatriating most of its expatriate employees and their families.

Portugal and Austria sent military planes to evacuate their nationals, as European governments and firms scrambled to evacuate their citizens from a Libya facing the looming spectre of civil war.

ADVERTISEMENT

Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Trump hammered by ex-intel officials for sucking up to the Saudis after Florida naval base shooting

Published

on

President Donald Trump is taking heat from former U.S. intelligence officials for taking a very soft tone with the Saudi government after Friday’s shooting at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida.

Not long after the shooter was identified as a second lieutenant in the Saudi Arabian military, the president tweeted out words of sympathy from the Saudi king after a phonecall, writing, "The King said that the Saudi people are greatly angered by the barbaric actions of the shooter, and that this person in no way shape or form represents the feelings of the Saudi people who love the American people."

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Former right-wing presidential candidate scamming Americans with toxic bleach cure for cancer

Published

on

Former diplomat and Reagan adviser Alan Keyes is a well-known gadfly who has run multiple times for president and for Senate, most famously against future President Barack Obama in 2004.

But lately, according to The Daily Beast, he has been involved in a different pursuit: the promotion of a dangerous pseudoscience scam known as the "Miracle Mineral Solution," or MMS.

The substance, which is actually just the powerful bleach chlorine dioxide, is supposedly a cure for everything from viral infections to infertility, and there was even a cultlike church known as the Genesis II Church of Health and Healing, that promoted it as a gift from God. MMS has particularly taken root in developing countries like Uganda, but it also has a following in the United States, and many autistic children have been forced to drink it. Versions of this scam have even been promoted on Amazon.

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

American exceptionalism is killing the planet

Published

on

Ever since 2007, when I first started writing for TomDispatch, I’ve been arguing against America’s forever wars, whether in Afghanistan, Iraq, or elsewhere. Unfortunately, it’s no surprise that, despite my more than 60 articles, American blood is still being spilled in war after war across the Greater Middle East and Africa, even as foreign peoples pay a far higher price in lives lost and cities ruined. And I keep asking myself: Why, in this century, is the distinctive feature of America's wars that they never end? Why do our leaders persist in such repetitive folly and the seemingly eternal disasters that go with it?

Continue Reading