More Than 200 Killed in Growing Libya Protests
Updated 7:34 p.m. ET
Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi appeared on state-run television to say that he had not fled the country, the AP reported. He spoke for less than a minute and denied rumors that he had fled to Venezuela, saying he was in the country’s capital, Tripoli.
Al Jazeera tweeted the news:
Updated 5:30 p.m. ET
Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s son Saif al-Islam said air raids were targeting ammunition depots, not populations in Tripoli and Benghazi, state television reported Monday.
“There is no truth to information about a raid by the armed forces against Tripoli and Benghazi,” he said, reported the official Jana news agency, according to Reuters. “The raid targeted ammunitions depots in areas remote from inhabited areas.”
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a statement released Monday that “the world is watching the situation in Libya with alarm”:
“Now is the time to stop this unacceptable bloodshed. We are working urgently with friends and partners around the world to convey this message to the Libyan government,” she said.
Updated 4:45 p.m. ET
Two Libyan air force pilots landed their jets in Malta on Monday seeking political asylum. According to the Guardian, the Times of Malta reported that the two pilots, both colonels, told officials they had been ordered to bomb protesters congregating in the Libyan city of Benghazi.
Updated 1:45 p.m. ET
The U.S. has ordered all non-essential personnel out of Libya and advised U.S. citizens not to travel to the country amid growing protest violence. Some cities reportedly have been overtaken by demonstrators.
Read the full State Department travel warning here.
Libyans and Egyptians in Cairo show their support for anti-government demonstrators in Libya. (AFP/Getty Images)
Moammar Gadhafi, in power since 1969, is under intense pressure as security forces have clashed with large demonstrations in Benghazi and Tripoli, the two largest cities in Libya. Benghazi is now believed to be under the control of protesters.
In Tripoli’s Green Square, crowds were met with live ammunition. Much of the capital was shut down, with closed shops and residents staying in their homes. More than 200 people have been killed in the violence, according to Associated Press reports of medical officials and human rights groups.
Several high-level government officials have backed protesters and criticized the violent crackdown, including two ambassadors and a former spokesman for the government. In a lengthy television address, Gadhafi’s son Saif al-Islam said his father’s government “will fight to the last minute, until the last bullet” against the dissenters.
As calls for the Gadhafi’s overthrow continue, there are fears of civil war in a country with tribal and regional rivalries. Oil prices skyrocketed Monday amid investor uncertainty. Internet and phone access has been hampered.
Unrest has continued to flare across the region in the wake of revolutions in Tunisia and then in Egypt. In Iran, protests in Tehran over the weekend were harshly suppressed. In Yemen, three-decade president Ali Abdullah Saleh told protesters he is “ready to respond to their demands if they are legitimate,” and called for dialogue. He has said he will not seek reelection in 2013.
Bahrain’s crown prince, Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa, also tried to appease protesters after clashes in Manama left at least six people dead.
In Morocco, five bodies were reportedly found in a bank after it was set on fire in the town of Al Hoceima following protests against King Mohammed VI. Protests are allowed in Morocco, which has an elected parliament alongside a centuries-old Alawite dynasty.