Qaddafi Loyalists Hold Tripoli as Lines Harden With Opponents

by
February 24, 2011

By Ola Galal, Maram Mazen and Massoud A. Derhally -Bloomberg News

Loyalists of Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi sought to crush dissent in the capital, Tripoli, as his opponents tightened control of eastern cities and President Barack Obama called for international pressure on the regime to end its attacks.

Oil surged to $100 a barrel in New York for the first time in two years. Libya is Africa’s third-biggest supplier, and violence threatened to spread to other Middle East producers.

Egyptians crossing back into their country across a border now in the hands of Qaddafi’s opponents described attacks by government forces in the capital. Soldiers and militiamen shot at civilians and most people stayed home out of fear, they said.

“Gunfire starts at sunset and lasts all night in Tripoli,” said Mohamed Hassan, a carpenter. Yasser al-Badry, also a carpenter, said live bullets were “all over the ground” after one crackdown against protesters in the capital.

While Qaddafi suffered further defections from his 42-year regime by former loyalists and military units, one of his sons, al-Saadi, told the Financial Times that his father envisions staying on as “the big father who advises” and passing administrative powers to a new generation under a constitution being drawn up by another son, Seif al-Islam.

To bolster his position, Qaddafi has brought in African mercenaries, his former chief of protocol, Nuri al-Mismari, said on Canal+ television.

Clinton Dispatched

In Washington, Obama said he’s sending Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to meet early next week at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva with other foreign ministers to work on a coordinated response, which spokesman Jay Carney earlier said may include sanctions.

To read more, visit: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-02-24/libya-is-split-as-qaddafi-loyalists-hold-tripoli-rebels-organize-in-east.html

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