Baghdad/Tripoli: Protests in Iraq dramatically escalated with nine people demanding
reforms and an end to corruption dying in clashes Friday as the
killing spree continued in Libya with Muammar Gaddafi unleashing
state forces to suppress the uprising against him.
A month after the people's movement began in Egypt on Jan 25,
there was no let up in the anti-government protests that have
broken out across the Arab world. Thousands gathered in Egypt's
Tahrir (liberation in Arabic) Square as well as in Baghdad's
square of the same name.
In the Jordan capital Amman as well as in Yemen's Sana'a, there
were protests after Friday prayers. Similar protests were planned
in the Libyan capital Tripoli's Green Square.
In Libya, which has been witnessing intense protests since Feb 14,
at least 17 people were killed when pro-Gaddafi forces attacked
demonstrators in Al Zawiya not far from capital Tripoli. And in
Yemen, President Ali Abdullah Saleh ordered the creation of a
special committee to start dialogue with opposition leaders to
calm the situation.
At least nine Iraqis were killed Friday - being observed as 'Day
of Rage' to commemorate one month of the Egypt uprising - in
protests as thousands of people demanded economic reforms, better
social services, more employment opportunities and an end to
corruption, DPA reported.
The unrest spread to other cities too.
In Mosul city, five protesters were killed and dozens injured when
security forces fired at people. Witnesses said some protesters
were trying to break into a local government building.
Four people were also killed in clashes between protesters and
security forces in Haweija town, a police official said. Some
2,000 protesters gathered in Haweija Friday morning and set fire
to the provincial council building.
In Basra, up to 4,000 people staged a protest early Friday and
sought the dismissal of the governor as they accused him of
corruption. Within hours, Governor Sheltag Abboud announced his
While Iraq burnt, Libya continued to be on the edge as people
intensified their protests to oust Gaddafi who has ruled the
country ever since he took over in a bloodless coup in 1969.
Six pro-government troops who were captured by Al Zawiya residents
admitted that they had been told the city was being run by Arab
militants and it was their job to liberate it, said a team of
doctors who did not wish to be identified.
The captured soldiers said that they had been misled so that they
would fight against their countrymen, CNN quoted the doctors as
Gaddafi, who accused the Al Qaeda of brainwashing the youth,
expressed condolences towards the families of the dead and injured
in Al Zawiya.
"These are our children," he was quoted as saying. "We are quite
upset about the senseless loss of lives."
Gaddafi said Libya has peaceful ways for its citizens to address
"We are not like Egypt or Tunisia," he said, referring to the two
countries that have ousted their leaders in recent weeks.
"Here, the authority is in the hands of the people. You can change
your authority, just make committees. And if you think they are
corrupt, take them to court. Prosecute them," he added.
People were unimpressed and anti-government protesters were
gearing up to hold a series of mass demonstrations Friday,
according to opposition group websites.
The Libyan protest movement has caused Gaddafi's government to
lose control of much of the eastern part of the country, AKI
The protests against Gaddafi's 41-year rule began after mass
demonstrations forced Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak to step
down after 30 years in power Feb 11, and one month after
demonstrators across the border in Tunisia toppled their longtime
leader, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali.
Other countries in the Arab world made efforts to quell the
In Yemen, President Saleh ordered the creation of a special
committee to start dialogue with opposition leaders. Protesters in
Yemen are demanding the resignation of the US-backed president who
has been in power for 32 years.
Yemen has been hit by the wave of unrest that has swept through
the Arab world, toppling authoritarian regimes in Tunisia and
Egypt and stoking mass popular uprisings in Libya and Bahrain.