Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Gaddafi sends tanks, jets to quash reports of his escape

He Vilifies ‘Media Dogs’ And Vows To ‘Cleanse Libya’ As Toll Touches 250
Tripoli: Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi used tanks, helicopters and warplanes to quell a growing revolt, witnesses said on Tuesday, as the veteran leader scoffed at reports that he was fleeing after four decades in power. “I want to show that I’m in Tripoli and not in Venezuela. Do not believe the channels belonging to stray dogs,” said Gaddafi. The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, citing sources inside the country, said on Tuesday that at least 250 people have be killed in the government crackdown.
Yet, warplanes bombed portions of the capital Tripoli on Tuesday in new attacks in the Mediterranean coastal city, and mercenaries fired on civilians, Al Jazeera reported.
Gaddafi said he would call the people to “cleanse Libya house by house” unless protesters on the streets surrendered. Libya’s security forces have cracked down fiercely on demonstrators across the country, with fighting seen in Tripoli after it first erupted in Libya’s oil-producing east last week, in a reaction to decades of repression and following uprisings that have toppled leaders in Tunisia and Egypt.
In the eastern town of Al Bayda, a resident, Marai Al Mahry, told Reuters by telephone that 26 people including his brother Ahmed had been shot dead overnight by Gaddafi loyalists. “They shoot you just for walking on the street,” he said, sobbing uncontrollably as he appealed for help.
Protesters were being attacked with tanks and warplanes, he said.
“The only thing we can do now is not give up, no surrender, no going back. We will die anyways, whether we like it or not. It is clear that they don’t care whether we live or not. This is genocide,” said Mahry, 42. AGENCIES
In Tripoli, one resident said locals were patrolling their neighbourhood at night to protect it from roaming mercenaries. He reported sniper fire and the use of military transport helicopters to ferry security forces about. AGENCIES

TN worker dies in mishap while fleeing strife; India draws up evacuation plan

New Delhi: As an Indian national died while trying to escape from strife-torn Libya, New Delhi on Tuesday said it was keeping a close eye on the situation. India is setting up a committee to draw up emergency plans including airlifting of Indians from Libya if the situation warrants. Overseas Indian affairs minister Vayalar Ravi told TOI the committee would comprise senior officials including the foreign secretary and overseas Indian affairs secretary. With about 18,000 Indians based in the country, which is now witnessing violent protests aimed at overthrowing leader Muammar Gaddafi, government sources said all contingency measures were in place. The death of a worker from Tamil Nadu on Monday, however, almost sparked off panic. A resident of Tirunelveli, Murugaiah (42), who worked with an automobile company, was said to have been shot dead by protesters but it was later found that he had actually died after the car he was travelling in collided with another vehicle. TNN

Bahrain releases political prisoners

Bahrain’s king ordered the release of some political prisoners on Tuesday, conceding to another opposition demand as the embattled monarchy tries to engage protesters in talks aimed at ending an uprising that has entered its second week. The king’s decree, which covers several Shiite activists accused of plotting against the state, adds to the brinksmanship on both sides. That has included a massive pro-government rally on Monday, an opposition march in response , and the planned return of a prominent opposition figure from exile. AGENCIES

2 Libya pilots refuse kill mission, defect

Two Libyan Air Force fighter pilots have defected and flew their jets to Malta where they told authorities they had been ordered to bomb protesters, Maltese government officials said. They said the two pilots, both colonels, took off from a base near Tripoli. One of them has requested political asylum. The UN refugee agency UNHCR appealed on Tuesday to Libya's neighbours in Europe and North Africa not to turn back people fleeing upheaval that has killed scores of people since last week. Italy is among the countries most likely to receive an influx. AGENCIES

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