Live Blog: Libya in Chaos

If you don’t have something else pressing to do this afternoon, I suggest watching Al Jazeera English to follow the fast-moving events in Libya. You can also follow Al Jazeera’s Libya live blog here.

Unarmed protesters who have been peacefully protesting in the streets there have been fired upon by Gaddafi’s government forces with machine guns and from helicopters. Funeral processions have been fired and mourners killed. Hundreds of people have died and many more are injured, filling hospitals beyond capacity.

The latest reports are that the military has stood down and refused to continue carrying out Gaddafi’s orders to fire on protesters.

The US has told embassy staff to leave Libya, and US citizens are being warned against traveling there.

Here are some recent news updates and I’ll add more as I get them. Feel free to discuss the protests that are taking place in multiple other countries, including the U.S.

NYT: Protesters Die as Crackdown in Libya Intensifies

…the escalating violence in Libya — a cycle of funerals, confrontations, and more coffins — has made the revolt there the bloodiest in a wave of uprisings sweeping the region since the ouster of strongmen in Tunisia last month and Egypt last week.

Under Mr. Qaddafi’s four decades of idiosyncratic rule, Libya has become a singular quasi-nation, where the official rhetoric disdains the idea of a nation-state, tribal bonds remain primary even within the ranks of the military, and both protesters and the security forces have reason to believe that backing down will likely mean their ultimate death or imprisonment.

“The most dreadful crime against humanity is taking place in this city,” said Abdel Latif Al Hadi, a 54-year-old Benghazi resident whose five sons are out protesting. “In the eastern region, there is no going back after this bloodbath.”

Several residents of Benghazi described an ongoing battle for control of the city, Libya’s second-largest, with a population of more than half a million. By Sunday, thousands of protesters had occupied a central square in front of the courthouse, which some call their Tahrir Square after the epicenter of the Egyptian revolt, and they were chanting the same slogans that echoed through the streets of Tunis and Cairo, “The people want to bring down the regime.”

CNN: Clashes erupt at Libyan funeral procession, military camp

New clashes between anti-government protesters and security forces in Libya killed another 25 people Sunday as protesters used an explosives-laden car and a tank to attack a military camp in Benghazi, witnesses reported.

The attack followed a clash between troops and marchers in a funeral procession in Libya’s second-largest city. Sunday’s violence left 25 people dead, according to a doctor at Benghazi’s Al Jalla Hospital, bringing the toll in the recent unrest to 209.

Thousands of mourners, some carrying coffins above their heads, crowded into Benghazi streets Sunday in a funeral procession honoring those killed Saturday. The clashes occurred as the procession passed by the Alfadeel Abu Omar military camp, where one man told CNN uniformed troops opened fire on the mourners.

The clashes escalated after the incident, centered around the military camp. Protesters packed at least one car with explosives Sunday and sent it crashing into a compound wall at the camp, eyewitnesses said. Security forces then fired on the protesters as they attempted to breach the camp.

I’m not sure if CNN has reporters on the ground or if they are getting telephone updates. They say have talked directly to witnesses.

Reuters: Libya protesters seize streets, Bahrain mood eases

Libyans protesting against Muammar Gaddafi’s rule appeared to control the streets of Benghazi on Sunday, even though the security forces have killed scores in the bloodiest of multiple revolts now rocking the Arab world.

Witnesses said Libya’s second city was in chaos, with government buildings ransacked and troops and police forced to retreat to a fortified compound, from where they picked off demonstrators with sniper and heavy-weapons fire.

“The security forces are in their barracks and the city is in a state of civil mutiny,” one witness told Reuters.

The Guardian UK: Libya defiant as hundreds of protesters feared dead

Libya is defying growing international condemnation of a bloody crackdown that saw troops and mercenaries firing at unarmed demonstrators as the death toll rose to more than 200.

The most violent scenes so far of the wave of protests sweeping the Arab world were seen in its most repressive country as Muammar Gaddafi appeared to be relying on brute force to crush what began last week as peaceful protests but may now threaten his 41-year rule.

the eyes of the world were on Benghazi and elsewhere in eastern Libya where shocked witnesses talked of “massacres” and described corpses shot in the head, chest or neck piling up in hospitals running short of blood and medicines.

Estimates of the total number of fatalities over six days of unprecedented unrest ranged from 173 to 285. Some opposition sources gave figures as high as 500.

Gaddafi’s sons, Khamis and Saadi, and intelligence chief Abdullah Sanussi were reportedly commanding efforts to crush the protests in Benghazi, the country’s second city, where buildings were ransacked and troops and police forced to retreat to a compound to pick off demonstrators with sniper and artillery fire.

A little tech news from ZDNet: Libya turns of the internet and the massacres begin.

First, Libya blocked news sites and Facebook. Then, beginning Friday night, according to Arbor Networks, a network security and Internet monitoring company, announced that Libya had cut itself off from the Internet. Hours later the Libyan dictator’s solders started slaughtering protesters. As of Sunday afternoon, U.S. Eastern time the death toll was above 200 in the city of Benghazi alone.

Welcome to 2011. While dictators in the most repressive regimes, such as North Korea and Cuba, have long kept Internet contact to the world to a bare minimum, less restrictive dictatorships, such as Egypt and Libya left the doors to the Internet cracked open to the public. Now, though, realizing that they could no longer hide their abuses from a world a Twitter tweet away, the new model autocracies, such as Libya and Bahrain have realized that they need to cut their Internet links before bringing out the guns.

As in Bahrain, Libya’s Internet is essentially owned and controlled by the government through a telecommunication company Libya Telecom & Technology. Its chairman is the dictator’s Moammar Gadhafi’s eldest son. Mobile phone services in Libya are also under the control of the government. So far though the government doesn’t seem to have cut international phone services off-perhaps because that’s harder to do without cutting off local telephone service.

Unlike Egypt or Bahrain though, Libya is the home domain of a well-known Internet service, the URL tracking and shorting service., which is operated by the U.S. company of the same name, is used in the popular social network client Tweetdeck.

Well, I think I can survive without Tweetdeck….

Please use the comments to share any new that you are hearing or reading. This is an open thread for discussing anything related to the worldwide protests.

27 Comments on “Live Blog: Libya in Chaos”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    China stifles “jasmine” trail online, breaks up protests

    BEIJING: ‘Jasmine’ became the watchword for Chinese authorities on Sunday as an innocuous post online led to gatherings in Beijing and Shanghai, and protests that took after the wave of rebellion sweeping north Africa and the Arab world.

    In a swift crackdown underlining the Chinese government’s anxiety, officials questioned or detained scores of activists and warned others, while blocking posts on Chinese websites calling on people to join in protests. The police stepped up vigilance across 13 cities in China in response to persistent posts over the internet exhorting the Chinese to join the Jasmine Revolution that began in Tunisia, to secure their democratic rights from the government in Beijing.

    Censors blocked posts on Chinese websites to the extent possible. Weibo, the country’s Twitter-like microblog, produced no results for “Jasmine Revolution”. The popular Baidu search engine reported candidly that search results were unavailable due to regulations. Some Chinese internet search pages listed “jasmine” postings but links to them were blocked.

    In Beijing, security officers attempted to detain one man holding jasmine flowers at the planned protest site, but let him go after he was swarmed by journalists. The Associated Press identified him as 25-year-old Liu Xiaobai, who told them: “I just put down some white flowers, what`s wrong with that? I’m just a normal citizen and I just want peace.”

  2. bostonboomer says:

    Robert Fisk: These are secular popular revolts – yet everyone is blaming religion

    Mubarak claimed that Islamists were behind the Egyptian revolution. Ben Ali said the same in Tunisia. King Abdullah of Jordan sees a dark and sinister hand – al-Qa’ida’s hand, the Muslim Brotherhood’s hand, an Islamist hand – behind the civil insurrection across the Arab world. Yesterday the Bahraini authorities discovered Hizbollah’s bloody hand behind the Shia uprising there. For Hizbollah, read Iran. How on earth do well-educated if singularly undemocratic men get this thing so wrong? Confronted by a series of secular explosions – Bahrain does not quite fit into this bracket – they blame radical Islam. The Shah made an identical mistake in reverse. Confronted by an obviously Islamic uprising, he blamed it on Communists.

    • bostonboomer says:

      “We are getting shot by American weapons fired by American-trained Bahraini soldiers with American-made tanks,” a medical orderly told me on Friday. “And now Obama wants to be on our side?”

      • Outis says:

        Thanks for keeping us updated on this. It’s like a firestorm everywhere. I will send good thoughts to all the brave protesters all over the world. Maybe people have had enough.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Hi Outis,

        It’s really amazing, isn’t it?

  3. Minkoff Minx says:

    BB, Great and thank you for posting this!

      • Woman Voter says:

        Thanks BB, as only recently the countries have begun trying to sort out the information. Odd, but I had the link to the soldier, but was to upset by it and sent it off to others. I think I have seen too many bodies and tragic ends to very young lives and it has stayed with me.

        I hope the Iranians don’t meet harsher violence than what is going on in Libya. Sending good thoughts to the Libyan people in their quest for Freedom and Democracy.

      • Sophie says:

        Did the Democratic State Senators come back yet?

      • bostonboomer says:

        Hi Sophie,

        As far as I know, they don’t plan to come back until the bill is off the table. They said they might stay away for weeks if necessary. That’s how serious this issue is.

      • Sima says:

        80.000, that’s awesome (literally). I was only 6 in 1968, so I don’t really remember it much. I’ve seen the footage and so on. What I remember, vividly, were the protests and riots in England during the Thatcher years. I lived there through some of those. So I’m relating this to those experiences of mine.

        They were exhilarating and scary. My awe at the ghost towns of unemployment in the former mining areas has not faded. I think I would have the same feeling were I to be living in Detroit right now.

  4. Beata says:

    Yes, BB, thanks for the updates. As others have said, it is becoming very difficult to keep abreast of all these events. We live in interesting times.

  5. Peggy Sue says:

    This is like having reports come in as light strobes. It’s utterly amazing.

    Just heard on CNN that unofficial reports indicate that the city of Benghazi is in the hands of the protestors [who are armed btw, having overrun the military and police posts]. Guns, ammunition and food are being distributed to the populace.

    The really scary element here is the heavy presence of foreign mercenaries, hired specifically to ‘enforce’ the will of the government.

    A few stray reports from Iran–Green Movement protestors still on the streets, Revolutionary Guard pushing back. You still have pro-government Iranian forces clashing with the progressive element. And the Iranian congress/parliment/whatever they call it suggested the execution of protest leaders last week was in order. They also said quite clearly they were prepared to shoot into crowds during the large protest planned for today.

    It’s hairy out there in the world, all over.

    Iranian You Tube/CNN report here:

    • bostonboomer says:

      Yes, Bengazi is controlled by the protesters according to Al Jazeera. But there are other cities involved too. It really sounds like Gaddafi could be done.

      • Woman Voter says:

        I hope so, I mean really paying 1 or 2 for Beyonce (sp) his son’s birthday while the people suffer, while he exploited the countries resources for his dictatorship is just wrong. All the while telling youth to hate others, when he was the oppressor and the one that was keeping all the wealth.

        I wonder how much Gaddafi had in the conflicts in other parts of Africa since he wanted to rule ALL of Africa,but he never had the African people’s interest at heart.

        Sending good thoughts and hoping that they do set up a true Democracy and chart their own course to a better future.

      • Minkoff Minx says:

        I wonder if the shapely blond will be going with him?

  6. Minkoff Minx says:

    Libya launches harshest crackdown yet up rebels – Yahoo! News

    Security forces loyal to Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi unleashed heavy gunfire Sunday on thousands marching in a rebellious eastern city, cutting down mourners trying to bury victims in a bloody cycle of violence that has killed more than 200 people in the fiercest crackdown on the uprisings in the Arab world.

    Western countries expressed concern at the rising violence in oil-rich Libya, which is sandwiched between friendly neighbors Egypt and Tunisia — where long-serving leaders were successfully toppled in recent weeks. British Foreign Secretary William Hague said he told Gadhafi’s son, Seif al-Islam, that the country must embark on “dialogue and implement reforms,” the Foreign Office said.

    In the first-known defection from Gadhafi’s regime, Libya’s representative to the Arab League said he resigned his post to protest his government’s decision to fire on defiant demonstrators in the second-largest city of Benghazi.

    And this on:
    France24 – Moroccan protesters call for curbs on king’s powers

    Several hundred Moroccan demonstrators, some waving Tunisian and Egyptian flags, have staged a rare protest in the Moroccan capital of Rabat to demand restrictions on the king’s powers and an end to corruption.

    Looks like I will need to change my avatar picture to my green one that I had a couple years ago..

  7. Woman Voter says:

    Don’t look NOW ladies, but the ruthless dictator is headed this way…Venezuela, Brazil, or ????

    O Brasil tem uma mulher presidente e é uma democracia, por favor, Gaddafi ir para Arábia Saudita Please, someone else take Gaddafi, and besides he should live under a dictatorship, to get a taste of it. Well it is good to hear he is leaving, but not good to hear his plane is heading this way.

  8. bostonboomer says:

    Gaddafi’s son is making a speech right now.

  9. Woman Voter says:

    EANewsFeed EA WorldView
    #Libya: Read the speech of #Qaddafi son Saif al Islam as it happens
    #Feb17 #Lybia #Jan25 #SidiBouzid

  10. Woman Voter says:

    Can someone embed this photo
    ? When people think the dictator’s son is a not all there it’s time to get on the plane and go.