On The Ground In Libya

The violence is continuing in Libya, as pro-Gaddafi forces continue to murder protestors.  The New York Times has a disturbing story about Gaddafi loyalists shooting at people from the back of an ambulance:

An increasingly gruesome picture began to emerge Saturday of the violent tactics used by the government of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi to quell protesters in Tripoli, the Libyan capital, with several witnesses confirming that forces loyal to the government had been shooting people from ambulances and using antiaircraft guns against crowds.Witnesses to the violence in Tripoli, where a tense standoff held on Saturday, also said that the government had removed dead bodies as well as the wounded from hospitals in an effort to disguise the mounting death toll in the uprising against Col. Qaddafi sweeping Libya.

Col. Qaddafi’s forces had put down demonstrators, who had taken to the streets after Friday Prayers to mount their first major challenge to the government’s crackdown, with snipers from rooftops, buckshot, and tear gas, witnesses said. There were unconfirmed reports that an armed rebel force was approaching the city on Saturday.

In Tajoura, a neighborhood of the capital where there has been significant fighting since a peaceful demonstration there last Sunday, residents had barricaded a street with old television sets and cinderblocks to try to keep out pickup trucks full of men with machine guns. A doctor working at the local clinic here said he had seen 68 people killed and 150 injured in recent days of clashes, and that residents were braced for more violence.

A rebel officer who is coordinating an attack on Tripoli, Col. Tarek Saad Hussein, asserted in an interview that an armed volunteer force of about 2,000 men — including army defectors — was to arrive in Tripoli on Friday night. There was no way to confirm his claim.

Protesters in Tripoli said that they had heard a force was on its way from the eastern cities that had fallen to rebels, but that they had been stopped in Surt, a remaining Qaddafi stronghold halfway between Tripoli and Benghazi, the opposition-controlled city where the uprising began.

Colonel Hussein was especially angered at the reports of security forces’ firing on protesters after prayers. “They did not have weapons,” he said, speaking at an abandoned army base in the eastern city of Benghazi, which is firmly under rebel control. “They shot people outside the mosque.”

Indeed, accounts of the bloodshed on Friday indicated that Colonel Qaddafi’s forces had deployed the same determined brutality as they had earlier in the week defending their leader, who has ruled for more than 40 years.

“They shoot people from the ambulances,” said one terrified resident, Omar, by telephone as he recalled an episode during the protests on Friday when one protester was wounded. “We thought they’d take him to the hospital,” he said, but the militiamen “shot him dead and left with a squeal.”

A precise death toll might be impossible. Omar said that friends who were doctors at a hospital in Tripoli saw bodies being removed from the morgue to conceal the death toll. Local residents told him that the bodies were being taken to beaches and burned. Omar did not want his full named used for fear of his life.

On Friday’s Fox Report, Anchor Shep Smith and corespondent David Lee Miller updated viewers on the situation in Libya:

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The situation shows no signs of improving, with some suggesting that NATO intervention could occur if the death toll continues to rise:

If the U.S. military were to intervene in an increasingly chaotic Libya, it would most likely be part of a NATO action in which Libyan bloodshed has reached a humanitarian crisis, analysts said Thursday.As reports emerged Thursday about deadly clashes between leader Moammar Gadhafi’s forces and anti-government protesters in the town of Zawiya near Tunisia, analysts highlighted how Gadhafi has already pledged to fight a rebellion to martyrdom.

Military intervention “is something which I hope doesn’t happen, but it looks as though at some point that it should happen,” said Simon Henderson, senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

“What’s an acceptable number of civilian deaths? I don’t know. Choose your figure,” Henderson said. “At the very least, instead of having a casualty list certainly in the hundreds, possibly in the thousands, we don’t want a casualty list numbering in the tens of thousands, or 100,000 or so.”

 

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