Human Rights Watch reports that security forces in Libya killed 24 protesters Thursday during anti-government demonstrations. Inspired by demonstrations and uprisings in other nations, opponents of Muammar al-Gaddafi, Libyan leader since 1969, called for demonstrators to continue the protests and named Thursday a “Day of Rage.”
Deadly protests continue to rock Libya. According to Human Rights Watch, Libyan security forces have killed 24 protesters at anti-government demonstrations during the past few days, and many others have been wounded in the spreading unrest in the North African country.
The organization said in a statement that hundreds of peaceful demonstrators had taken to the streets of the Libyan cities of Baida, Benghazi, Zenten, Derna, and Ajdabiya on Thursday, the the day opposition activists had called for an anti-government “Day of Rage” on social networking sites. The human rights group, quoting several witnesses, said Libyan security forces shot and killed protesters to disperse the crowds.
BBC reports that funerals for the fallen protesters are to be held today.
The BBC’s Jon Leyne in Cairo says violent confrontations are reported to have spread to five Libyan cities in demonstrations so far, but not yet to Tripoli, the capital, in any large numbers.
Demonstrators opposed to the regime of Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi gather in Hyde Park on February 17, 2011 in London, England Protests have also taken place in the UK
Our correspondent says the reports reflect an extremely tough government response, including the use of gunfire and even denying supplies to hospitals.
Funerals of some of those killed are expected to be held on Friday in Benghazi and al-Bayda, which correspondents say could spur more protests.
Activists set up camps in al-Bayda after Thursday’s “Day of Rage” protest against the government, witnesses said.
Libya’s state news agency, meanwhile, said long-time ruler Moammar Gadhafi had toured the capital Tripoli, trying to rally loyalists amid the widening anti-government protests.
More demonstrations were expected Friday, and witnesses said protesters camped out in a central area of the eastern port city in Benghazi.
The video below shows shots being fired at protesters.
Defying threats of reprisals in several cities, thousands of Libyan protesters mounted one of the sharpest challenges to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s 40-year rule in a “Day of Rage” on Thursday modeled on the uprisings coursing through the region that have had toppled the authoritarian regimes of Tunisia and Egypt.
Despite Libya’s heavy hand in controlling security and stifling dissent, Human Rights Watch said protests were reported in the capital, Tripoli; Benghazi, the country’s second-largest city; and at three other places. News reports said the protests continued into early Friday in Benghazi.
The report of 24 dead from Human Rights Watch, based on what it said were accounts by “multiple witnesses” was one of the highest so far. The accounts were muted by Libya’s strict media controls, which made independent verification difficult. Unlike in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Bahrain, the authorities, like those in Iran during protests last Monday, have largely prevented conventional television coverage and the only images to emerge have been on social networking sites. On the ground, a fog of smoke, tear gas and fresh unease descended over cities throughout the region, with demonstrations and rolling street battles lurching in violent new directions as governments fought to blunt their momentum and reassert control of the streets. States imposed curfews and ordered people to stay home, and those who defied the orders risked gunfire or beatings at the hands of security forces, private guards or pro-government crowds.
Sorry for the drive-by diary, but I don’t have much time this morning. My apologies for any errors (editors please feel free to fix them or add updates), but I’m in quite a rush.
The above is focused on Libya, but consider this a place to discuss protests/demonstrations/uprisings wherever you may find them.
What say you, Moose?