viernes, 4 de marzo de 2011

Protests in Tripoli after prayers

 Libyan security forces are using tear gas to disperse hundreds of protesters from the streets after Friday prayers in Col Gaddafi's stronghold of Tripoli. A BBC reporter in the flashpoint eastern suburb of Tajoura said demonstrators were burning the official Libyan flag.
Secret police had tightened security in the area earlier, and Gaddafi loyalists set up traffic checkpoints.
Government forces have launched air attacks on rebel territory in the east.
Later reports described the sound of multiple explosions and heavy artillery on the outskirts of the oil port of Ras Lanuf. Opposition fighters had reportedly advanced on the city, to which pro-Gaddafi forces withdrew after a battle two days earlier.
The Libyan revolt, which broke out in mid-February to end Col Gaddafi's 41-year rule, had appeared to have reached deadlock.
'Al-Qaeda elements' The BBC's Wyre Davies in Tajoura says the protesters have taken to the streets and are calling for the fall of the Gaddafi government.
There were violent scenes here, just on the outskirts of Tripoli. This is significant because, of course, Col Gaddafi insists that everybody, especially in the country near Tripoli, loves him and that there are no protests.
What we saw today after Friday prayers was a vociferous protest by anti-Gaddafi demonstrators. Then, all of a sudden, pro-government militia and police came in vehicles screeching into the centre of the suburbs, firing dozens of tear gas canisters and baton rounds.
The scene was chaotic as people ran away but then they came back, shouting anti-Gaddafi slogans.
We knew that Fridays are always significant because a lot of the anti-government protesters gather in and around the mosque and come out into the streets. But this is proof that this isn't just an uprising in the east and perhaps the west of the country, but there are significant elements in and near Tripoli that are opposed to the regime.
Despite the considerable risks they are running, they are prepared to protest and demand the end of a man who has ruled this country for 42 years.
"They fired tear gas," a Reuters news agency reporter said from the scene. "I heard shooting. People are scattering."
The atmosphere had been tense earlier as noon prayers began in the district's main mosque, while secret police milled around outside.
There was also a heavy military presence on main roads in Tajoura, where Gaddafi loyalists have been searching cars at checkpoints.
There were unconfirmed reports of mosques having been closed and arrests overnight, while internet services appeared to have been cut off.
The authorities stopped some foreign journalists leaving the main media hotel in Tripoli, saying it was to protect them from "al-Qaeda elements".
Reporters were later told they could leave the hotel on condition they boarded official buses to government-selected locations.
Protests last week after Friday prayers in several districts of the city ended in bloodshed when government forces fired on civilians, witnesses have said.
Pro-Gaddafi militias have been roaming Tripoli in civilian cars, according to residents.
A wave of detentions, killings and disappearances has been reported in the city in recent days.
Bodies of missing people have reportedly been left in the street.
Rebel advance A Libyan warplane bombed the rebel-held Mediterranean port town of Ajdabiya on Friday, narrowly missing a munitions dump.
Watch: Obama says Gaddafi must leave
Gaddafi forces also carried out the second air raid in as many days on the nearby key rebel-held harbour of Brega, home to the country's second largest oil facility, Al Arabiya news network reported.
The opposition - a mixture of citizen militias and army defectors armed with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades - have also been securing Brega in anticipation of a fresh onslaught by Gaddafi loyalists.

Start Quote

Victory or death - we will not stop till we liberate all this country”
End Quote Mustafa Abdel-Jalil Opposition leader 
Several hundred mercenaries from Mali's Tuareg community have just joined government forces, a senior official from that North African country told the BBC.
The major western rebel-held cities of Zawiya and Misrata have also repelled attacks by Gaddafi loyalists.
The leader of the opposition National Libyan Council reportedly told cheering crowds in Libya's second city of Benghazi they would not give up.
"We are people who fight, we don't surrender," former Libyan Justice Minister Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, who went over to the opposition last month, was quoted as saying by Reuters news agency.
"Victory or death. We will not stop till we liberate all this country."
Benghazi Al-Aqaylah Desert Ra's Adjir Map of Libya