Sunday, November 6, 2011

Obama seeks consensus on response to violence

US President Barack Obama has called the leaders of the UK, France and Italy as international efforts to respond to the crisis in Libya gather pace.

Mr Obama outlined a range of possible measures, including plans for humanitarian assistance.

Earlier, the White House said all options were on the table, including sanctions. It said the military would present its own proposals to Mr Obama.

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi meanwhile blamed the uprising on al-Qaeda.

Speaking on state television, he repeated claims that hallucinogenic drugs had been given to young people to incite them to revolt.

Opposition supporters in Tripoli have said they are planning to protest in Green Square after Friday prayers at noon (1000 GMT).

On Thursday, fierce fighting was reported in nearby towns, as pro-Gaddafi forces tried to regain control of areas seized by the opposition.

A witness in Zawiya, 50km (30 miles) to the west, said an army unit had attacked protesters with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades.  Until a few days ago, Benghazi was the scene of some of the fiercest fighting in Libya. Now it's safely in opposition control and the port has become an evacuation route for thousands of foreign nationals.

Local people told me how protesters took on Col Gaddafi's best fighters who were in a huge base in the centre of the city. The government troops shot at them using heavy weaponry, including anti-aircraft guns and mortars. Around 300 protesters were killed.

But gradually they armed themselves with makeshift weapons. They stole construction vehicles, loaded them with petrol then loaded them to blast holes in the walls of the military compound.

The city is now run by a committee of judges and lawyers. There are signs everywhere urging people to go back to work. Some people from the city have armed themselves with looted weapons. They are now pushing forward to oust Col Gaddafi's forces from their remaining strongholds in the west. Reports from the capital say that the bodies of people killed there have been cleared off the streets. Witnesses said pro-Gaddafi militiamen - including foreign mercenaries - were patrolling the Tripoli's main streets, firing in the air.

Security had also been stepped up outside key government buildings, and homes and hospitals had been raided in search of opposition supporters, they added.

"Now is the time of secret terror and secret arrests," one resident told the Associated Press. "They are going to go home-to-home and liquidate opponents that way."


Post a Comment