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Libyan protests spread; death toll reaches 100

[ 2011-02-21 10:52]     字号 [] [] []  
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Anti-government protests spread closer to the Libyan capital on Sunday and new fighting erupted in the flashpoint city of Benghazi, as Human Rights Watch said it feared more than 100 people were killed in clashes between police and demonstrators.

Protests broke out in several Libyan cities, particularly in the second largest city of Benghazi, where demonstrators called for political and economic reforms in the country ruled by Muammar Gadhafi for more than 40 years.

Witnesses said Benghazi was in a state of chaos, with government buildings ransacked and troops and police forced to retreat to a fortified compound, from where snipers picked off demonstrators.

The Human Rights Watch, citing medics and witnesses, said the death toll hit 100 in Benghazi with the death of 20 on Saturday.

No official statements and comments have been issued by the Libyan authorities on the death toll.

Unrest also hit Yemen, Morocco, Oman, Kuwait, Algeria and Djibouti over the weekend as people took to the streets demanding political and economic change. Authorities in Saudi Arabia detained activists trying to set up the kingdom's first political party.

The clamor for reform across a region of huge strategic importance to the West and the source of much of its oil began in Tunisia in December. The overthrow of President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali then inspired Egyptians to rise up against strongman Hosni Mubarak, sending him packing on Feb 11. The tide has challenged leaders of countries long backed by the West.

Benghazi and the surrounding area have been the focus of the Libyan unrest. But posts on social network sites, which could not be verified, referred to minor clashes in the capital Tripoli and of overnight gunfire in Nalut, to the west.

Nonetheless, Libya watchers said an Egyptian-style nationwide revolt was unlikely as regional grievances were a factor in the unrest.

Gadhafi traditionally has less support in the east than in the rest of the country, where he is respected by many despite the lack of Western-style democracy. And Libya's oil wealth allows him to smooth over social problems.


(中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑)

Libyan protests spread; death toll reaches 100

About the broadcaster:

Libyan protests spread; death toll reaches 100

Lee Hannon is Chief Editor at China Daily with 15-years experience in print and broadcast journalism. Born in England, Lee has traveled extensively around the world as a journalist including four years as a senior editor in Los Angeles. He now lives in Beijing and is happy to move to China and join the China Daily team.