Politics | Human rights
"Urban war" spreads in Libya cities
At least 174 deaths have been confirmed by local hospitals, according to the latest update from the US-group Human Rights Watch (HRW). Hospital sources confirm that live ammunition, including large calibres, is being used against the protesters, with some arriving with gunshot wounds of up to 4 centimetres in diameter.
New of the day is that protests have spread to the capital, Tripoli, which so far had been totally under the regime's control. Also today, Ghaddafi supporters have occupied the Green Square in central Tripoli, hindering pro-democracy protesters to take this central position.
But protesting and fighting has broken out in numerous Tripoli suburbs. The capital's Fashloom area was the first centre of protests, but the regime soon sent revolutionary guards, police and snipers to the neighbourhood, using live munitions and knives, effectively dispersing crowds.
But as soon as the crowds were dispersed in Fashloom, other protesting crowds popped up spontaneously around the city. "Within minutes, the revolutionary committee people were upon them," a protester reports from Tripoli, saying plain-cloth agents suddenly draw knives in the middle of the crowds, stabbing protesters. Several have been killed; many more wounded.
"I swear to God, this is urban war," the Tripoli protester says.
The protests in Benghazi, Tripoli and many other Libyan towns are going on, moving from one location to another. During the day, it has indeed intensified. Protesters know: if they quit now, the war is lost.
Both sides are bound to escalate the fighting. In Benghazi, latest reports indicate the protesting youths are using stones and "jalateena" - small grenades used to catch fish - to defend themselves. At the same time, the regime is reported to send more troops to the city.
The urban war in Libya, it seems, has only started. Human Rights Watch meanwhile warns of a disaster - a human rights disaster - unfolding in the country.
By staff writers
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