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Libya Brings in the Big Guns Against Protesters

Longtime Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s grip on power has been significantly shaken by protesters in recent days, but Col. Gadhafi made it clear Monday that he wasn’t ready to go the way of his former counterparts in neighboring Tunisia and Egypt by striking back from the air and bringing in gunmen on the ground. –KA

The New York Times:

The faltering government of the Libyan strongman Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi struck back at mounting protests against his 40-year rule, as helicopters and warplanes besieged parts of the capital Monday, according to witnesses and news reports from Tripoli.

By Monday afternoon, a witness saw armed militiamen firing on protesters who were clashing with riot police. As a group of protesters and the police faced off in a neighborhood near Green Square, in the center of the capital, ten or so Toyota pickup trucks carrying more than 20 men — many of them apparently from other African countries in mismatched fatigues — arrived at the scene.

Holding small automatic weapons, they started firing in the air, and then started firing at protesters, who scattered, the witness said. “It was an obscene amount of gunfire,” said the witness. “They were strafing these people. People were running in every direction.” The police stood by and watched, the witness said, as the militiamen, still shooting, chased after the protesters.

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