Friday, February 18, 2011
Green Square Tripoli Protests
Libyans demonstrate in Green Square Tripoli on the graves of eight American Naval Heroes.
...The officers and men were killed when the Intrepid, an explosives-laden ship they were trying to sneak into Tripoli's harbor, exploded prematurely. The mission had been aimed at getting the fire ship, called an "infernal," close enough to blow up a fort and artillery belonging to the Barbary pirates.
This action was part of the First Barbary War, which lasted from 1801 to 1805; the United States was fighting to defend American shipping from pirates operating out of the four North African states on the Barbary Coast: Tripoli, Tunis, Morocco and Algiers.
Chipp Reid, a former journalist who lives in Eastport and now works for the federal government, said five of the Intrepid's crew, though unidentified, are buried in individual graves in the Old Protestant Cemetery in Tripoli.
The other eight, also unidentified, are buried in a mass grave in what is now a park in front of Tripoli Castle in Libya.
"They (the eight) are buried in front of the castle where (Libyan ruler Muammar al-) Gaddafi holds his I-hate-America rallies. The Libyans are, quite literally, dancing on American bodies," Reid said
Earl Kelly, Staff Writer
The Capital HometownAnnapolis.com
Amateur video posted online purportedly shows unrest in Libya
As it happened: Mideast unrest
At least 46 people are now known to have died in clashes between anti-Gaddafi protesters and security forces in Libya since Wednesday.
The true death toll may be higher, with 35 deaths reported by a single hospital in the second city, Benghazi, on Friday alone.
State media have warned of retaliation against critics of Muammar Gaddafi, in power for more than four decades.
Websites have been blocked and electricity shut off in some areas.
The mainstay of the unrest is in regional towns and cities, where many people live in poverty.
Media restrictions make it difficult to verify reports independently but the BBC has confirmed that websites including Facebook and al-Jazeera Arabic were blocked.
Benghazi's airport was closed amid reports that protesters had taken it over.
Crowd fired on
Security forces opened fire in Benghazi on Friday when protesters approached a residential compound used by Colonel Gaddafi when he visits the city, which is about 1,000 km (600 miles) from the capital Tripoli, eyewitnesses say.
Continue reading the main story
Mid-East unrest: Libya
Colonel Muammar Gaddafi has led since 1969
Population 6.5m; land area 1.77m sq km
Population with median age of 24.2, and a literacy rate of 88%
Gross national income per head: $12,020 (World Bank 2009)
Country profile: Libya
The city's al-Jala hospital received the bodies of 35 people killed in the shooting, according to the Associated Press news agency and al-Jazeera.
One protester told the BBC that soldiers had switched sides in some areas and joined the demonstrations.
"The soldiers say we are citizens of this country and we cannot fight our citizens," he said. "We respect our people, we don't need to fight them."
There were also reports of tanks being parked outside the city's court building.
According to Amnesty International, al-Jala hospital reported 28 unrest-related deaths on Thursday, while the Associated Press reported only 12 that day in Benghazi.
In a statement on its website, Amnesty added that 15 people were also killed on Thursday in the eastern city of al-Bayda.
Video from al-Bayda showed bloodstained bodies in a mortuary and protesters torching a municipal building and demolishing a statue of the so-called "green book", which sets out Col Gaddafi's ideology.
Oea newspaper, owned by one of Col Gaddafi's sons, reported that demonstrators had lynched two policemen in the city.
It also reported outbreaks of violence in Darnah, east of al-Bayda, where police stations are said to have been evacuated.
A number of protesters were reportedly killed in Darnah on Thursday, adding to the uncertainty over the final death toll for three days of protests.
Amid the crackdown, the semi-independent Quryna newspaper reported that the government would replace many state executives and decentralise and restructure the government.
It was unclear whether the political move was in response to growing unrest.
Earlier, the pro-government Al-Zahf Al-Akhdar newspaper threatened that the authorities would "violently and thunderously respond" to the protests.
"The people's power, the Jamahiriya [system of rule], the revolution, and Colonel Gaddafi are all red lines and those who try to cross or come near these lines are suicidal and playing with fire," it said.
Col Gaddafi is the Arab world's longest-serving leader, having ruled oil-rich Libya since a coup in 1969.
Analysts say the situation in the country is different from Egypt because Col Gaddafi has oil cash to smooth over social problems and is still respected in much of the country, though less so in the Cyrenaica region around Benghazi.
The British Foreign Office is now advising UK citizens against all but essential travel to Benghazi, Ajdabiya, al-Bayda, al-Marj, Derna, Ajdabiya, Tobruk and areas bordering Sudan, Chad, Niger and Algeria.