12 killed in Libya protests

February 18th, 2011 - 12:17 pm ICT by IANS  

Facebook Tripoli/Moscow, Feb 18 (IANS/RIA Novosti) At least 12 people were killed and dozens injured in anti-government protests in Libya’s northeastern city of Al-Baida and eastern city of Benghazi, media reports said.Inspired by popular and successful uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, the protesters had called for a “Day of Rage” Thursday in a bid to challenge the 41-year rule of Muammar Gaddafi, who has been accused of human rights abuses.

Citing opposition websites and non-government organisations, Al-Arabiya news agency reported that security forces and militia of the Revolutionary Committees opened fire on the peaceful, mostly young demonstrators in the city of Al-Baida, killing at least six people.

However, Human Rights Solidarity, a Geneva-based human rights group, put the toll at 13. Witnesses in Al-Baida reported that several snipers opened fire from the tops of buildings, killing at least 13 demonstrators, it said.

Six protesters were shot dead by security forces in Benghazi, on the northern Mediterranean coast, DPA reported.

At least 38 people were injured in Benghazi when police clashed with hundreds of demonstrators late Tuesday.

Opposition news website Libya Al-Youm also reported that large anti-government demonstrations were taking place in the north coast city of Darnah Thursday.

A Facebook group calling for the “Day of Range” had 4,400 registered members Monday, but the number more than doubled to about 10,000 following Wednesday clashes in Benghazi.

Gaddafi, who came to power on the back of a 1969 coup, is the longest-serving leader in both Africa and the Arab world.

The spark for the protest was believed to be the detention of human rights lawyer Fathi Terbil by the Libyan security forces. Terbil was reportedly later released.

Local media reports said pro-Gaddafi demonstrations were held Wednesday in several cities across the country following the Benghazi protest.

–IANS/RIA Novosti
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