Hundreds of Libyans Stage Anti-Government Protest

February 16, 2011

VOA News

Hundreds of Libyans have staged an anti-government protest in the country’s second-largest city, Benghazi, chanting slogans denouncing Libyan leaders and fighting with police.

Witnesses and private media say the protesters gathered late Tuesday into early Wednesday outside a security building in Benghazi, initially to demand the release of a lawyer who is an outspoken government critic.

Libyan media say the lawyer was freed, but the crowd of protesters grew and started chanting anti-government slogans. The reports say some of the protesters threw stones at police who tried to disperse them. A Libyan newspaper says 14 people were injured.

Libyan state-run media ignored the protests and later reported that groups of government supporters were holding rallies in Benghazi, the capital, Tripoli, and other cities.

Libyan opposition activists have been using social media websites to call for a day of anti-government protests on Thursday, drawing encouragement from uprisings that ousted authoritarian rulers in Egypt and Tunisia in recent weeks.

Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi has been in power since 1969, when he led a coup against a Western-backed monarchy.

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