Friday, February 25, 2011

Demonstrations against Gaddafi to meet hail of bullets

25 Feb 2011

Pro-democracy protestors in Tripoli called for a rally in Green Square, traditionally the place where people go to celebrate the dictator\'s 42 years in power.

It will take place following Friday Prayers at a time when the streets of the capital are always at their busiest.

Gaddafi is so angry about the prospect that he has flooded the centre with soldiers ordered to â shoot-on-sight\' at anyone causing trouble.

Tanks and other armoured vehicles were also taking up positions, while helicopter gunships whirred overhead.

Heavy gunfire explosions were heard overnight in the high-residential Tajoura district of the city, with locals reporting armed gangs roaming the street.

\"It\'s sometimes hard to know whose side they\'re on,\" said one. \"All carry weapons ranging from heavy machine guns to hunting rifles. It\'s anarchy at times.

\"Thousands are still prepared to defy Gaddafi by taking to the streets today. The time for change has come. The dictator has to step down.

\"We know he has ordered his troops to shoot on sight, but we are ready.\"

Gaddafi has also offered money to anybody who betrays demonstrators and hands them over to the authorities.

And he has told his supporters to \'cleanse\' the streets of opponents, blaming the revolt on terrorist warlord Osama Bin Laden, and drug addicts.

Meanwhile fierce battles continued to rage within earshot of Tripoli.

Troops opened fire with anti-aircraft guns and other heavy weapons on demonstrators holed-up in a mosque at Al-Zawiyah, just 30 miles from the Libyan capital.

Local doctors estimated that some 100 people had died already.

There were also clashes in Miisurata, around 150 miles east of Tripoli, where mortars and rocket-propelled grenades were used on protestors near the town\'s airport.

Skirmishes have also been reported in the towns of Sabha and Sabratha, near Tripoli.

Pro-democracy demonstrations started on February 15th, as people tried to bring about the kind of revolt which led to autocrats in neighbouring Egypt and Tunisia being deposed.

Gaddafi, who has ruled Libya in an uncompromising fashion since 1969, has responded violently, with the death toll across the country already well into four figures.

Much of the east of the country, including the second city of Benghazi, is now in the control of Gaddafi\'s opponents, with the dictator believed to be preparing for a last stand around his capital.

Ahmed Gadhaf al-Dam, a cousin who is one of Gaddafi\'s closest aides, is among those who have defected, renouncing Gaddafi\'s â grave violations to human rights and human and international laws\'

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