Heavy arms used in Libya crackdown'

Written by  Published by:Shiite News
Published in Rest of World
Wednesday, 23 February 2011


libiya_tortFresh footage of the Libyan regime's crackdown on pro-democracy protesters has confirmed reports of the military's use of heavy weaponry against civilians.

Images, taken at a hospital in the eastern city of Benghazi, show severely wounded and dead protesters. This comes as more than 1,000 Libyans have so far been killed during the military airstrikes in the capital Tripoli.
Reports suggest that the victims could have been killed by fighter jets and helicopter gun-ships.

"It's not entirely clear how these men were killed, it could have been by fighter jets, it could have been by helicopter gunships, it could have been by mortar, it could have been by heavy machine guns," AFP quoted Martin Fletcher, an editor with The Times newspaper as saying on Wednesday.

The newspaper says it has obtained shocking footage of corpses with bodies blasted off and severed torsos in the Libyan hospital.

"One thing is abundantly clear, they were not killed by tear gas or by batons or by methods of suppressing peaceful protests that are generally considered the outer limits of what is acceptable," Fletcher added.

Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi, who swept to power 42 years ago in a bloodless military coup, delivered a televised address on Tuesday in which he vowed to fight on to his "last drop of blood" and urged his supporters to take to the streets to confront the pro-democracy protesters.

Pressure mounts on isolated Gaddafi

Pressure has mounted on isolated Libyan ruler Col Muammar Gaddafi after a chorus of international condemnation and resignations by top officials.

The man considered the colonel's number two, Interior Minister Abdel Fattah Younes al-Abidi, is among senior figures who have joined the opposition.

The UN Security Council demanded an end to the violence on Tuesday, while the Arab League suspended Libya.

Protesters greeted an angry speech by the veteran leader with defiance.

The BBC's Jon Leyne, in eastern Libya, says people there believe the government now controls just a few pockets of territory including parts of the capital Tripoli and the southern town of Sabha.

At least 1000 people have been killed so far in the uprising, which has spread from the east of the country, although Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini told reporters in Rome that a more realistic death toll was 1,000.

Mr Frattini also told Corriere della Sera newspaper he feared an immigrant exodus on a "biblical scale" if Col Gaddafi was toppled, predicting up to 300,000 Libyans could try to flee their country.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy called for the European Union to adopt "swift and concrete sanctions" and to suspend economic and financial relations with Libya.

Meanwhile, European countries have been evacuating their nationals from the North African nation.

Planes and frigates from Turkey, France and Russia have been sent to pick up hundreds of their stranded nationals.

The UK is sending a warship, HMS Cumberland, to the Libyan coast ahead of a possible evacuation.

The UN Security Council's statement in New York late on Tuesday came amid reports foreign mercenaries have been attacking civilians and warplanes bombing protesters.

The council's 15 members said the Libyan government should "meet its responsibility to protect its population", act with restraint, and respect human rights and international humanitarian law.

The statement said the Libyan authorities should also hold accountable those people responsible for attacking civilians, and respect the rights of its citizens.

Libya's deputy permanent representative to the UN, Ibrahim Dabbashi - who called on Monday for Col Gaddafi to step down - said the statement was "not strong enough".

Meanwhile, Interior Minister Mr al-Abidi - head of the powerful Thunderbolt commando brigade - read a resignation statement from his desk, urging the army to support the people and their "legitimate demands".

The Libyan ambassador to Indonesia, Singapore and Brunei became the latest figure to quit on Wednesday, in protest at the crackdown on demonstrators in his country.

A senior aide to Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, a son of the Libyan leader, has also quit, Reuters news agency reports.

The BBC's Jon Leyne, in eastern Libya, says people there reacted with anger and derision to Col Gaddafi's speech on Tuesday in which he referred to the protesters as rats and cockroaches.

During the rambling 75-minute address on state TV, Col Gaddafi - who has ruled the country since taking power in a 1969 military coup - vowed to crush the revolt and die as a martyr.

Bursts of gunfire and blaring of car horns were heard in Tripoli after the speech, although it is not clear if protesters or Gaddafi loyalists were behind the noise.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Col Gaddafi's speech was "very, very appalling" and "amounted to him declaring war on his own people".

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Reports suggest that the victims could have been killed by fighter jets and helicopter gun-ships.

"It's not entirely clear how these men were killed, it could have been by fighter jets, it could have been by helicopter gunships, it could have been by mortar, it could have been by heavy machine guns," AFP quoted Martin Fletcher, an editor with The Times newspaper as saying on Wednesday.

The newspaper says it has obtained shocking footage of corpses with bodies blasted off and severed torsos in the Libyan hospital.

"One thing is abundantly clear, they were not killed by tear gas or by batons or by methods of suppressing peaceful protests that are generally considered the outer limits of what is acceptable," Fletcher added.

Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi, who swept to power 42 years ago in a bloodless military coup, delivered a televised address on Tuesday in which he vowed to fight on to his "last drop of blood" and urged his supporters to take to the streets to confront the pro-democracy protesters.

Pressure mounts on isolated Gaddafi

Pressure has mounted on isolated Libyan ruler Col Muammar Gaddafi after a chorus of international condemnation and resignations by top officials.

The man considered the colonel's number two, Interior Minister Abdel Fattah Younes al-Abidi, is among senior figures who have joined the opposition.

The UN Security Council demanded an end to the violence on Tuesday, while the Arab League suspended Libya.

Protesters greeted an angry speech by the veteran leader with defiance.

The BBC's Jon Leyne, in eastern Libya, says people there believe the government now controls just a few pockets of territory including parts of the capital Tripoli and the southern town of Sabha.

At least 1000 people have been killed so far in the uprising, which has spread from the east of the country, although Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini told reporters in Rome that a more realistic death toll was 1,000.

Mr Frattini also told Corriere della Sera newspaper he feared an immigrant exodus on a "biblical scale" if Col Gaddafi was toppled, predicting up to 300,000 Libyans could try to flee their country.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy called for the European Union to adopt "swift and concrete sanctions" and to suspend economic and financial relations with Libya.

Meanwhile, European countries have been evacuating their nationals from the North African nation.

Planes and frigates from Turkey, France and Russia have been sent to pick up hundreds of their stranded nationals.

The UK is sending a warship, HMS Cumberland, to the Libyan coast ahead of a possible evacuation.

The UN Security Council's statement in New York late on Tuesday came amid reports foreign mercenaries have been attacking civilians and warplanes bombing protesters.

The council's 15 members said the Libyan government should "meet its responsibility to protect its population", act with restraint, and respect human rights and international humanitarian law.

The statement said the Libyan authorities should also hold accountable those people responsible for attacking civilians, and respect the rights of its citizens.

Libya's deputy permanent representative to the UN, Ibrahim Dabbashi - who called on Monday for Col Gaddafi to step down - said the statement was "not strong enough".

Meanwhile, Interior Minister Mr al-Abidi - head of the powerful Thunderbolt commando brigade - read a resignation statement from his desk, urging the army to support the people and their "legitimate demands".

The Libyan ambassador to Indonesia, Singapore and Brunei became the latest figure to quit on Wednesday, in protest at the crackdown on demonstrators in his country.

A senior aide to Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, a son of the Libyan leader, has also quit, Reuters news agency reports.

The BBC's Jon Leyne, in eastern Libya, says people there reacted with anger and derision to Col Gaddafi's speech on Tuesday in which he referred to the protesters as rats and cockroaches.

During the rambling 75-minute address on state TV, Col Gaddafi - who has ruled the country since taking power in a 1969 military coup - vowed to crush the revolt and die as a martyr.

Bursts of gunfire and blaring of car horns were heard in Tripoli after the speech, although it is not clear if protesters or Gaddafi loyalists were behind the noise.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Col Gaddafi's speech was "very, very appalling" and "amounted to him declaring war on his own people".

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