Thursday, February 17, 2011

Libyan protesters clash with police in Benghazi

16 February 2011

Hundreds of anti-government protesters have clashed with police overnight in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi. The protests were reportedly triggered by anger at the arrest of a human rights campaigner.

Meanwhile, Libyan state television said rallies were being held across the country in support of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

The online edition of Libya\'s privately owned Quryna newspaper, which is based in Benghazi, reported that demonstrators had petrol bombs and threw stones.

It said a crowd protested outside a local government office to demand the release of the activist, and then went to the city\'s Shajara square where demonstrators clashed with police and government supporters.

Government supporters have now taken over the square, according to reports. Fourteen people were injured including 10 police officers, but none of the injuries was serious, the newspaper said.

A Benghazi resident said the people involved in the clashes were relatives of inmates in Tripoli\'s Abu Salim jail, where militant Islamists and government opponents were usually held.

\"Last night was a bad night,\" said the witness, who did not want to be identified. \"There were about 500 or 600 people involved. They went to the revolutionary committee (local government headquarters) in Sabri district, and they tried to go to the central revolutionary committee ... They threw stones,\" he said, adding, \"It is calm now.\"

Libyan state television showed footage of a rally of government supporters in the Libyan capital, Tripoli. Participants chanted slogans accusing Qatar-based television news channel al-Jazeera – which was instrumental in revolts in neighbouring Tunisia and Egypt – of broadcasting lies.

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