Around 20 demonstrators were reported to have been killed in Libya in clashes with security forces on a "day of rage" across the country.
According to an opposition website, Libya Al-Youm, four of the deaths took place in the eastern city of Al Bayda when snipers from the paramilitary internal security force picked off ringleaders at a rally. The website also claimed that six more were shot down in the country's second-largest city, Benghazi, which had seen days of increasingly violent protests. Yesterday's confrontation took place after a large crowd surged towards the State Security building following the funeral of two others killed a day earlier.
The Libyan government had freed 110 Islamist prisoners and doubled the salary of civil servants in attempts to placate protesters.
But there were unconfirmed reports last night of the military being mobilised, with commando teams being sent to likely trouble spots and armoured personnel carriers taking up positions around routes leaving some of the cities.
Yesterday's marchers shouted religious slogans, a marked feature of the protests so far. But, according to local people, the crowd also vented their anger at Col Gaddafi's regime.
The government news agency Jana declared that pro-government rallies were being organised to express "eternal unity with the brother leader of the revolution" – one of the official terms of endearment for Col Gaddafi.Reuse content