Tunis/Sana'a/Algiers: Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi
desperately hung on to power as international pressure mounted on
him to quit, with the US imposing sanctions following a ruthless
crackdown on protesters. The Arab world continued to witness
unrest and Tunisia where it all started saw fresh protests to
demand removal of the interim prime minister.
In Libya, troops supporting Gaddafi went on with their killing
spree, with a report from Tajoura town saying that live ammunition
was used against anti-government demonstrators. An estimated 1,000
people have died in the uprising that began Feb 14 against the
four-decade rule of Gaddafi.
While in Yemen four people were killed in clashes that took place
Friday night, Tunisia's caretaker government promised to hold
elections in mid-July instead of September as protests again took
place to seek removal of interim prime minister Mohammed
In Algeria, hundreds of protesters Saturday took part in
Libya was on the edge Saturday as anxious people wondered what
Gaddafi might do to quell the unrest that started from Benghazi
city in the east and quickly spread across the country.
Abu Yousef, a local resident, told Al Jazeera from Tajoura town
Saturday that live ammunition was being used against
"Security forces are also searching houses in the area and killing
those who they accuse of being against the government," he was
quoted as saying.
Looking at the rapidly rising toll in the unrest, international
pressure considerably increased on Gaddafi to step down.
The US late Friday imposed unilateral economic and weapons
sanctions on Libya's government. US President Barack Obama cited
the Libyan government's "continued violation of human rights,
brutalisation of its people and outrageous threats", DPA reported.
The sanctions target the assets and property of the Gaddafi
government, its senior officials, Gaddafi's children and Libyans
who have ordered or participated in "the commission of human
rights abuses related to political repression in Libya", according
to an official letter sent by Obama to leaders of the Senate and
House of Representatives.
As the US stepped up pressure, Gaddafi's son offered to hold talks
In remarks delivered late Friday, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi denied
that mercenaries have taken part in attacking protesters after
witnesses said mercenaries from Chad, Mali and other African
countries have been involved in attacks on protesters.
Saif al-Islam Gaddafi also vowed that the state would regain
control over eastern cities. Witnesses said protesters are now in
control of most of the eastern cities, including Benghazi, the
second-largest city after the capital, Tripoli.
The UN Security Council Saturday may adopt sanctions against Libya
aimed at stopping the bloodshed in the country.
The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on the Security
Council Friday to promptly consider specific steps against
Gaddafi's government, with options ranging from sanctions to
While Libya burnt, there were fresh clashes in Yemen that left
four people dead Friday night.
CNN quoting medical officials reported that four people have died
from gunshot wounds after clashes in southern Yemen.
Yemen has been witnessing widespread demonstrations against
President Ali Abdullah Saleh who has been in power since 1978.
The clashes also left at least 26 people injured, according to
doctors and medical staff at Naqeeb Hospital in the southern port
city of Aden.
On Friday, thousands of anti-government demonstrators - mostly
students - who were gathered near Sana'a University in the
nation's capital, were countered by a pro-government demonstration
on Tahrir Square.
Saleh has promised not to run for president in the next elections
due 2013 but refused to step aside immediately.
In Tunisia, where the unrest originally began and spilled over to
other countries in north Africa and the Middle East, the caretaker
government promised to hold elections in mid-July instead of
September as protests resurged in the country seeking immediate
removal of the interim prime minister Mohammed Ghannouchi.
Tunisia's longtime leader, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, was forced out
of office in Jan 14 following a revolt - which is now described as
the Jasmine Revolution.
According to BBC, police cleared the demonstrators who marched
through the capital Tunis Friday demanding the resignation of
Ghannouchi, a long-time ally of the ousted leader Zine El Abidine
Ben Ali. Ghannouchi had served under Ben Ali since 1999.
In Algiers Saturday, protesters took part in the first
demonstrations held in Algeria since the lifting of the
19-year-old state of emergency earlier this week, DPA quoted
witnesses as saying.
The protesters gathered in the centre of the capital Algiers,
despite the protest ban which is still in place.
Latest reports from Iraq Saturday said that at least 23 people had
been killed in the massive demonstrations for political reforms
that took place Friday.
Tens of thousands of Iraqis surged into the streets in at least a
dozen demonstrations across the country, storming provincial
buildings, forcing local officials to resign and freeing
prisoners, the Washington Post reported.