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Tension in Libya as question of foreign intervention looms

Wednesday March 02, 2011 05:12:53 PM, DPA

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Tripoli/Cairo: Tension ran high in the Libyan capital Tripoli Wednesday as protesters undergoing military training in the east of the country said they would march on the city and the possibility of foreign intervention loomed.

A fuel tanker also exploded in Tripoli early Wednesday. Amidst the panic, residents clashed with foreign reporters at the scene, forcing some of them back to their hotel, Al Jazeera reported.

It was not yet clear whether the fuel truck's explosion was an intentional act or an accident.

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and his security forces remain largely in control of the city, after losing the eastern part of the country to protesters.

The eastern city Ajdabiya reportedly remained under the control of the protesters Wednesday despite airstrikes by Gaddafi's security forces.

In the city of Benghazi, protesters undergoing military training at makeshift camps said they planned to march on Tripoli.

The leaders of the camps say there are around 5,000 volunteers being trained, according to Al Jazeera.

Reports that two US warships passed through the Suez Canal into the Mediterranean escalated concerns regarding foreign intervention in Libya.

US Defence Secretary Robert Gates said the ships were being sent for possible humanitarian efforts, and warned that "all of the options beyond the humanitarian assistance and evacuation are complex".

The Arab League was due to meet in Cairo Wednesday to put out a statement rejecting any foreign military intervention in Libya.

The League suspended Libya's membership last month over Gaddafi's violent crackdowns on protesters.

Many Libyan opposition members, including the Libyan National Council in Benghazi, say they want to overthrow Gaddafi on their own, without any foreign military assistance.

Encouraged by widespread anti-government demonstrations throughout the Arab world, Libyan protesters took to the streets Feb 15 to demand Gaddafi's departure.

Gaddafi's violent crackdown on the protesters has elicited international condemnation, including sanctions by the European Union and the US.

The Libyan leader, who has been in power for nearly 42 years, says he is determined to remain in the country and claims the protests were incited by foreign agents.

 

 

 

 

 

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