Chaos Continues To Reign As Gaddafi Slaughters Dissenters
The situation in Libya continues to be grim as Gaddafi lashes out while power slips through his fingers.
The situation in Libya seems to be getting worse as the noose tightens around Muammar Gaddafi’s neck:
TRIPOLI, Libya — 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.”
With news like this, it seems clear that the calls that we heard earlier this week for a no-fly zone over Libya were really nothing more than grasping at straws. A no-fly zone would do nothing to stop people from shooting at crowds from the back of an ambulance. Nonetheless, the calls are still coming for the United States, the United Nations, or NATO to do something to stop Gaddafi. It’s worth noting that, regardless of which body you’re talking about it would be the United States that would be bearing the brunt of any military action that took place. In the meantime, the United States has imposed sanctions directed at the assets of Gaddafi and his supporters, and the Libyan Government, but it’s hard to see how that is going to have any immediate impact, or how its going to influence the actions of a mad man.
At this point, its rather obvious that Gaddafi is on the way out. The only question is whether he leaves dead or alive (I’m guessing dead) and how much damage he inflicts before the end.