Libyan forces kill dozens, crushing uprising
AP and Reuters
February 21, 2011, 11:04 am TWN
TRIPOLI/MANAMA -- Security forces in the Libyan city of Benghazi killed dozens of people as they fought to crush an uprising against leader Muammar Gaddafi's rule, the bloodiest of multiple revolts now rocking the Arab world.
Witnesses said Benghazi was in a state of chaos, with government buildings ransacked and troops and police forced to retreat to a fortified compound, from where snipers picked off demonstrators.
In the Gulf kingdom of Bahrain, thousands of anti-government protesters camped over Saturday night in a Manama square. But after days of violence in the Sunni-ruled island state, the mood appeared to be more conciliatory with talks due to take place on Sunday between the opposition and the crown prince.
Unrest also hit Yemen, Morocco, Oman, Kuwait, Algeria and Djibouti over the weekend as people took to the streets demanding political and economic change. Authorities in Saudi Arabia detained activists trying to set up the kingdom's first political party.
The clamor for reform across a region of huge strategic importance to the West and the source of much of its oil began in Tunisia in December. The overthrow of President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali then inspired Egyptians to rise up against strongman Hosni Mubarak, sending him packing on Feb. 11.
The tide has challenged leaders of countries long backed by the West as well as erstwhile enemies. While each has its own dynamics, from religion to tribalism, all seem united by frustration over economic hardship and a lack of political freedom.
Bloodshed in Benghazi
A doctor says Muammar Gaddafi's forces have killed at least 200 protesters in the eastern city of Benghazi as they try to crush a rebellion that has spread to more than a half-dozen cities across the country.
Witnesses told The Associated Press a mix of special commandos, foreign mercenaries and Gaddafi loyalists assaulted demonstrators in Benghazi on Saturday with knives, assault rifles and heavy weapons. Those protesters were burying 35 marchers who were slain Friday by government forces.
Benghazi has been at the center of a six-day revolt by Libyans inspired by uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia and frustrated by Gadhafi's more than 40 years of authoritarian rule.
The Benghazi doctor said his hospital, one of two in Libya's second-largest city, is out of supplies and cannot treat more than 70 wounded who were hit in the attacks and need attention.
"I am crying," the doctor said. "Why is the world not listening?"