Cairo/Tripoli/New Delhi: Libya's eastern city of Benghazi continued to be tense Sunday, a
day after at least 15 people attending the funeral of
anti-government protesters were shot dead by security forces,
taking the toll in unrest against the 41-year rule of Muammar
Gaddafi to over 100. However, sources claim neither Muammar
Gaddafi nor his family will leave Libya.
Egyptians in Benghazi have taken to the streets to demand an end
to the rule of 68-year-old Gaddafi, who has ruled the country ever
since he took over the reins in a bloodless coup Sep 1, 1969.
Libya, with a population of over six million, has one of the
largest oil reserves in Africa.
The protesters in Libya have been emboldened by successful
revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt. Tunisian leader Zine al-Abidine
Ben Ali was overthrown in January while Egyptian President Hosni
Mubarak resigned Feb 11. There also have been anti-government
demonstrations in the region - Yemen, Bahrain and Iran.
Violence escalated Saturday in Benghazi as security forces
reportedly opened fire at a funeral, leaving at least 15 people
and scores injured.
The victims were mourning the deaths of protesters who had been
killed during anti-government demonstrations during the past week,
witnesses said, bringing the toll to over 100 in six days of
unrest, Al Jazeera cited opposition groups as saying.
Some media reports put the death toll in the Libyan unrest at 200.
Amid reports of protests being violently put down in Libya, India
Sunday assured that all Indians are safe in that country.
"Indians in Libya safe. Embassy in touch with Indians and Indian
companies throughout Libya," Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao posted
on her twitter account Sunday morning.
According to Ministry of External Affairs, there are about 18,000
Indians in Libya.
DPA reported that the numbers of dead -- which range from 15 to 25
to 200 -- appeared to be in addition to the 84 people confirmed
dead by Friday by New York-based Human Rights Watch, which said
its figure was based on phone interviews with hospital staff and
Ahmed, a Libyan businessman who resides in Benghazi, told Al
Jazeera that hospitals were running out of blood as they were
overwhelmed with the number of the injured following the crackdown
by security forces Saturday.
"It's a big, big massacre. We've never heard of anything like this
before. It's horrible," he was quoted as saying.
Mariam, a doctor who spoke to Al Jazeera from a hospital in
Benghazi, said: "It's a massacre here. The military is shooting at
all the protesters with live bullets, I've seen it happen with my
own eyes. The military forces are everywhere, even from the
hospital I work, we are not safe. There was an 8-year-old boy who
died the other day from a gunshot to the head - what did he do to
Ahmed, another Benghazi resident, said: "Right now, the situation
is even worse than earlier today. Shooting is going until now. And
at a nearby hospital, at least 150 people have been admitted,
those injured and dead...the military is all over the place."
The uprising in Libya has largely been in the eastern cities of
Benghazi, Bayda and Tobruk. But a media report said the protests
have begun to spread to the country's west.
The internet service has also been cut off.
Protests in the country began Feb 14, and barely three days later
tens of thousands of anti-government demonstrators surged out into
the streets in what organisers called a "day of rage".
Sir Richard Dalton, former British ambassador to Libya, told the
Independent that "Gaddafi will find it hard to make concessions in
order to survive. I think the attitude of the Libyan regime is
that it's all or nothing."
Neither Muammar Gaddafi nor his
family will leave Libya, the Asharq al-Awsat newspaper Sunday
quoted sources within the clan as saying, following days of
violent protests calling for the long-time leader's removal.
"He insists on dying on Libyan land," the sources said, adding
that all members of Gaddafi's family who were living abroad came
back to the country last Thursday.
Emboldened by successful revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt,
thousands of Libyans have been calling for the ouster of Gaddafi,
who has been in power for 41 years.
Reports out of Libya said that dozens of protesters were killed in
clashes with security forces Saturday, with soldiers said to have
used live ammunition.