233 Killed in Libya Protests
Libya Tuesday became the latest Middle Eastern country to undergo political turmoil since the resignation of Egyptian President Hosni Muburak.
Police and the military in the North African country killed at least 233 protesters, according to Human Rights Watch. Libyan President Moammar Gadhafi said he will not resign his presidency.
Protesters took over eastern parts of the country including the second-largest city, Benghazi, over the weekend. Several police and military officials defected to the side of protestors and now control the city.
Gadhafi appeared on state-run TV today in front of his home in Tripoli to show that he has not fled to Venezuela, as rumors had suggested.
There were reports that Libyan military aircrafts were loaded with ammunition to be used against protesters. Other reports suggested police were opening fire on protesters in the streets of Tripoli. Some warplane pilots defected to the tiny island country of Malta to avoid killing fellow citizens. Reports from Malta said those warplanes had loaded machine guns and bombs aboard. Libyan officials claimed the munitions were to be used to for other reasons.
Information in Libya remains under tight governmental control. One CNN journalist is the only westerner who has been able to cross the border into Libya after reporting on the protests in Egypt.
Gadhafi came to power after a 1969 military coup. He recently appeared at the United Nations in 2009, delivering a 100-minute speech that the U.S. delegation walked out of. Gadhafi has agreed to abandon his nuclear program in recent years, giving up his government’s nuclear components to United Nations officials. He also paid monetary damages related to the 1989 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 that occurred over Lockerbie, Scotland.
Libya’s United Nations deputy ambassador predicted Gadhafi’s swift fall to be Monday. Those comments came after Gadhafi’s son, Saif Al-Islam Gadhafi, said his father would not fall in revolution and that blood would run in the streets. He also hinted at the possibility of civil war before his father would be ousted.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that the protests were “unacceptable bloodshed” and could be considered the most opinionated comments regarding the protests to date.
Protesters were also visible Tuesday in Morocco and China.