Dozens of people are reported to have been killed in Tripoli Monday as anti-government protests that began in eastern Libya spread to the capital.
The fighting is believed to be the first serious violence in Tripoli since the unrest began. Amateur video and witness accounts tell of gunfire, looting – allegedly by security forces – and general fear in the city.
Information is severely restricted by the Libyan government. The Internet is largely shut down and mobile phone systems are working intermittently, making reports difficult to verify independently.
In Benghazi, the eastern Libyan city where the protests started, witnesses say some in the security services have switched sides and are now taking up the anti-government banner of the protesters.
Libya raw protest video:
Amateur video show people described as demonstrators in control of what appears to be military-style weaponry, indicating that they either have been given, or seized part of the government’s arsenal.
The protest movement is also said to have spread to several other cities across the country.
One of the sons of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi addressed the nation early Monday. Saif al-Islam Gadhafi warned of civil war and a fight to the last man if the unrest continues. The younger Gadhafi blamed Islamic extremists, foreign elements, and criminals of being behind the unrest. He also warned that continued protests jeopardize revenue from the nation’s oil reserves – the largest in Africa.
But Saif al-Islam Gadhafi, considered a moderating influence among his father’s advisers, also spoke about the possibility of reforms, including dialogue and changes to the constitution.