Cairo/Tripoli: A bloody
crackdown by Libyan leader Moamer Gaddafi's security forces has
left hundreds of protesters killed as the military reportedly
launched an airstrike on the capital Tripoli Monday.
Two military planes landed in the northeastern city of Benghazi
after its pilots refused to bombard the city, shortly after news
reports emerged from Malta about two Libyan fighter jet pilots who
sought political asylum there.
Sources also indicated that planes with armed foreigners have
landed in Tripoli's airport earlier in the day.
The Dubai-based broadcaster Al Arabiya, citing witnesses, reported
that more than 150 people had been killed during Monday's clashes
between supporters and opponents of Gaddafi in Tripoli alone.
Anti-government protests have spread across Libya, amid
conflicting reports about the whereabouts of Gaddafi, who has
ruled the country for 41 years.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague said in Brussels he had
"some information" suggesting that the leader was en route to
Venezuela. A senior Venezuelan government official denied the
Meanwhile, an Egyptian-born cleric told Al Jazeera he had issued
an edict calling for Gaddafi's death.
"I am issuing a fatwa now to kill Gaddafi. Any army soldier, any
man who can shoot this man, he should do it to relieve Libyans of
his evil," Youssef al-Qaradawi told Al Jazeera.
Since protests began last week, Gaddafi's regime has cut off food,
fuel and medical supplies to the different cities, as well as most
communications. But he failed to prevent unrest from spreading
The Doha-based channel aired pictures and video footage showing
people killed in the northeastern city of Benghazi. It said they
were killed by the "Abu Omar Brigade" which is responsible for
protecting the Gaddafi family.
One video showed charred bodies as people were crying and shouting
While some of the pictures were blurred by the channel, it
indicated that more photographs would not be aired "because they
were too horrific to show, no matter how much they were blurred".
Libyan diplomats have been calling on Gaddafi to step down, while
others resigned from their posts violence against protesters.
Minister of Justice Mustafa Abdel-Jalil resigned in protest at
what he called an "excessive use of force against unarmed
protesters", he was quoted as saying by the Quryna, a Libyan
newspaper with close ties to Gaddafi's son, Saif al-Islam.
The representatives of Libya in the Arab League as well as Libya's
ambassadors to China and India have announced their resignation.
Several staff members at the Libyan embassy in Malta have joined
hundreds of protesters calling for Gaddafi's resignation.
The diplomatic mutiny also reached Libya's mission to the United
Nations in New York, where the deputy ambassador accused Gaddafi's
government of genocide, and predicted the demise of the regime.
"He has to get out," Ibrahim Dabbashi, the second in command at
the mission, said on Al Jazeera. "Either he gets out or the Libyan
people will kick him out."
"It is the end of the game," he added. "We will soon see the fall
of this regime."
Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad Bin Jasim Bin Jaber Al Thani
called for an emergency meeting for the Cairo-based Arab League to
discuss the situation in the North African country.
The demonstrations followed popular uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia
that drove those countries' leaders out of power.
Police stations and TV stations were set on fire Monday, as well
as the People's Hall, the main government building in the Libyan
capital where parliament meets.
Fighting in Tripoli erupted, following similar protests in the
second-largest city of Benghazi. Protesters managed to take over
the embattled eastern city after violence left hundreds dead.
A member of the county's armed forces confirmed to DPA that he and
others in the military in Benghazi had joined the protesters and
that security forces were fleeing.
He said that around 400 people were killed in the city during last
Human Rights Watch has estimated the death toll from protests
taking place in five Libyan cities since last week at 233.
Protesters are believed to have also taken control of other
cities, including Ajdabiya and Sirte.
Independent verification has proved difficult due to the
government's clampdown on communications and travel to the area.
An Egyptian Foreign Ministry official said that some 4,000
Egyptian nationals had fled Libya by land routes Monday alone. Two
Egyptians were said to have been killed in Libya.
The Egyptian army announced that the border to Libya would be open
for anyone who wants to flee from the violence-plagued country.