Libyan Forces Use Tear-Gas To Disperse Anti-Gaddafi Protest In Tripoli, Gun Fire Heard

Tyler Durden's picture

We were about an hour early with our prediction on when the Libyan violence newsflow will pick up. The headlines are coming now. Reuters reports that Libyan forces use tear-gas to disperse anti-Gaddafi protest in Tripoli, gun fire heard. Look for oil to drift higher with stocks now completely oblivious as the ES-Crude correlation factors have been deactivated virtually everywhere.

Full Update from the AP:

Frces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi have fired tear gas at protesters marching in the capital Tripoli, calling for the Libyan leader's ouster.

The security forces fired at least five cannisters of tear gas at the crowd of around 1,500 protesters in the Tripoli district of Tajoura. The crowd briefly scattered, but rejoined to continue their march, according to an Associated Press reporter at the scene.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) — Protesters marched from mosques in the Libyan capital Friday, calling for Moammar Gadhafi's ouster, in defiance of a heavy crackdown by regime supporters over the past week that has spread fear in Tripoli.

Similar protests a week ago were met by a brutal crackdown, when militiamen opened fire on demonstrators moments after they began their marches, killing a still unknown number. Since then, pro-Gadhafi forces have carried out a wave of arrests against suspected demonstrators, snatching some from their homes in nighttime raids.

In the morning Friday, security forces set up checkpoints in parts of the capital, searching cars and questioning drivers to find anyone who might be planning to join the protests. Internet services, which have been spotty throughout Libya's upheaval, appeared to be halted completely in Tripoli on Friday.

Still, some 1,200 protesters marched out of the Murad Agha mosque in Tripoli's Tajoura district after noon prayers were completed. They chanted "the people want to bring the regime down" and waved the red, black and green flag of Libya's pre-Gadhafi monarchy, adopted as the banner up the uprising.

"I am not afraid," said one 29-year-old man among the protesters. He said in the protests a week ago one of his relatives was shot to death — not by militias, he said, but by a pro-Gadhafi infiltrator among the demonstrations. "There are many spies among us. But we want to show the world that we are not afraid" he said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of fears of retaliation.

Control of the capital is crucial to the Libyan leader, since it remains his strongest remaining bastion amid the uprising that began on Feb. 15 and has broken the entire eastern half of Libya out of his control. Even some cities in the west near Tripoli have fallen to the uprising, and the opposition has repelled repeated attacks by pro-Gadhafi forces trying to take back the territories.

A large force from a brigade led by one of Gadhafi's sons led a new attack Friday on Zawiya, the closest opposition-held city to Tripoli, a resident said. The troops from the Khamis Brigade — named after the son — attacked Zawiya's western side, firing mortars and then engaging in battles of heavy machine guns and automatic weapons with armed residents and allied army units, said the resident.

"Our men are fighting back the force, which is big," the resident said. Zawiya, about 30 miles (50 kilometers) west of Tripoli, has beaten back several assaults the past week.

Throughout the night and into the early hours Friday, pro-Gadhafi forces also fired mortars and anti-aircraft guns at the outskirts of opposition-held Misrata, Libya's third largest city located just east of Tripoli, a doctor in the city said. He said it appeared to be an intimidation tactic, causing no casualties.

The crisis has turned into something of deadlock between the two sides. Gadhafi's forces have been unable to take back significant ground from the rebellion. At the same time, his opponents, made up of ragtag citizen militias backed by mutinous army units, don't seem to have the capabilities to make a military move against territory still in regime hands.

Instead, the eastern-based opposition is hoping that residents of those areas — including Tripoli — will be able to rise up like they did in other cities where protesters drove out Gadhafi loyalists.

Friday could be a significant test of whether the opposition can maintain protests in Tripoli in the face of a fearsome clampdown.

Several hours before prayers, streets were eerily empty, with few residents out. Security forces, however, began to take up positions. In Tajoura, an eastern district of the capital where protests a week ago were attacked, police set up two checkpoints on the main highway leading to downtown. They stopped cars to search them, check drivers' ID and ask where they were going or coming from.

Before noon prayers, worshippers massd in the Murad Agha mosque, debating on the next steps. They said messages between Tripoli organizers were being aired on radio being aired from Benghazi, the main city in the opposition-held east, and audible in the capital. At one point, they decided to hold a sit-in inside the mosque to avoid coming under gunfire by stepping outside.

"Gadhafi lies with impunity," said one 80-year-old among the worshippers, wearing traditional Libyan dress. "For 40 years, he never told the truth."

But in the end, the 400 protesters inside marched out, joined by hundreds of others.

Libyan authorities briefly barred many foreign journalists from leaving their hotel in Tripoli, claiming it was for their protection because they had information "al-Qaida elements" plan to open fire on police to spark clashes. They later allowed them to go out into Tripoli.

Gadhafi loyalists in the capital have unleashed a wave of arrests and disappearances since last Friday's bloodshed. Bodies of people who vanished have been dumped in the street. Gunmen in SUVs have descended on homes in the night to drag away suspected protesters, identified by video footage of protests that militiamen have pored through to spot faces. Other militiamen have searched hospitals for wounded to take away.

Residents say they are under the watchful eyes of a variety of Gadhafi militias prowling the streets. They go under numerous names — Internal Security, the Central Support Force, the People's Force, the People's Guards and the Brigade of Mohammed al-Magarif, the head of Gadhafi's personal guard — and they are all searching for suspected protesters.

"While you are speaking to me now, there are spies everywhere and people watching me and you," one man said, cutting short a conversation with an Associated Press reporter visiting the Tripoli district of Zawiyat al-Dahman on Thursday.

The fear among Gadhafi opponents is so intense that when one family set up a mourning tent in Tripoli's Fashloum neighborhood on Thursday for a 56-year-old protester killed last Friday, no one showed up to pay condolences.

During the man's burial several days earlier, "the militia was also there watching us," said the man's brother. He — like other residents — asked that he and his relatives not be identified for fear they too would be hunted down.

He said his brother was shot when militiamen opened fire on protesters emerging from Fashloum's main Al-Baz mosque last week. "My brother was hit with a bullet right in the heart. In minutes he lost all his blood," he said, showing a mobile phone video clip of the body, with a hole in the chest.

While rushing to Tripoli's central hospital, he found militia stationed in front of the building.

"Doctors at the hospital told me that they are taking the injured to underground rooms inside the hospital away from the militia," said the brother, who is a doctor himself.

The number of deaths across Tripoli last Friday is not confirmed. The brother gave the names of six people from Fashloum who were killed. He said other bodies of slain protesters that day were seen being loaded into cars by militiamen and have not been seen since. He said he knows families who are still searching for bodies of their loved ones.

Others were arrested later on. The brother said he knows a 37-year-old man who disappeared for several days afterward. Then his body was dumped in a street in Tripoli's Abu Selim district.

In Tajoura, a 31-year old protester showed the AP on Thursday the houses of his two brothers, who were rounded up in a 3 a.m. raid a day earlier.

The protester said he was on the roof of a nearby building during the raid, counting the militia vehicles: 15 white pickup trucks with People's Guards license plates and two 4x4 Toyotas screeched up to the adjacent houses in a narrow, unpaved alley. They cordoned off the buildings, militiamen leaped over the buildings' fences, froze the door locks off with a compressed substance in cans and broke in. They drove off with his 32- and 35-year-old brothers, whose whereabouts remains unknown, the protester said.

They were among 20 protesters rounded up in Tajoura at that same time, according to various residents.

"They call Tajoura 'the terrorist neighborhood' because we dared to call for ousting Gadhafi," the protester said.

In the home of one of the arrested men, clothes were left scattered around the living room, drawers were open and the TV was still on. The door was intact, but its lock was knocked out. In the bedroom, the mattress was overturned. The protester said money, jewelry and four mobile phones were also taken. Other young men from the family had already been arrested days earlier, he said.

Except for the barking dogs, the house was empty and still.

"We moved their families away from here. There is no way they can stay after what happened," he said, adding that he and his fellow activists had also decided not to spend the night in their homes.

"This is the message to all Libyans: if you say you don't want Gadhafi, this is what will happen to you," he said.

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AN0NYM0US's picture

and in unrelated news


The director of the London School of Economics has resigned over the university's links to the family of Libyan dictator Colonel Muammar Gaddafi



PY-129-20's picture

and in unrelated news:

China Increases Military Spending by 12.7 Percent

Cioran had a clever thought once. He said: "Hitler and Stalin will look like pupils compared to the dictators of the 21st century."

eigenvalue's picture

Forget about the Chinese army. Corruption is everywhere inside the Chinese army. A couple of Chinese generals are actually full-time pop singers. lol

PY-129-20's picture

So they'll try to kill you with pop music. Get the Bieber guy and send him to China.

New_Meat's picture

"So they'll try to kill you with pop music."

Yep, been done before:

Pants McPants's picture

Well if ever existed a country in dire need of US-style democracy, it's Libya.  Besides, what's the worst that can happen?  If the US kills a few more brown people all it has to do is have its top military commander apologize.  All good.

cossack55's picture

"US-style democracy". Do you mean fascism, marxism, an oligarchy, Kleptocracy, thugocracy. A little specificity please.

Oh regional Indian's picture

+ FaMaOliKleth it's all of the above.

Meanwhile in other news...

It emerged last night that British authorities had intercepted a ship carrying £100 million worth of Libyan currency and escorted it into Harwich, Essex.

The ship had tried to dock in Tripoli over the weekend but decided it was unsafe and proceeded to Britain, tracked by UK authorities. The seized currency is now subject to UN action. The operation came days after Britain prevented the export of £850million in Libyan bank notes, which were printed in the north of England, to Tripoli.


So it goes, the drama.


Pants McPants's picture

Oh but it's not [fascism, marxism, etc.] when the US does it!

All of the above!

Weimar Ben Bernanke's picture

The countries to watch are Yemen,Iraq,and Bahrain. It is ironic that there is protest in Iraq meanwhile our government are not saying nothing as 17 iraqis were killed last week. President Saleh of Yemen shoots protestors while Odumbo is mum. This is the beginning of the end of America's role in the middle east. The crakcs are showing,and if Bahrain falls and Saudi Arabia intervenes then this will open a can of worms. Yemen is falling,the shiites in Bahrain are pissed of at the sunni royal family,and the Iraqis want to get rid of the central government. March is going to be an interesting month.

indya's picture

We are missing Pakistan here.They are now in cricket fever but as soon as that subsides,they will wake up in gunpowder stack.

Bob's picture

Interesting indeed that we heard nothing about protests in Iraq.  Since the first day of Egyptian protests, I've been expecting the long-suffering Iraqi's to pick up the ball.  What a perfect opportunity for them! 

Iraq oil production: 2.7M bpd

slow_roast's picture

Gaddafi didn't realize that he was supposed to make slaves out of Libyans prior to giving them rights; that's where he really screwed up.  America, doing things right!

fragrantdingleberry's picture

The rebels are showing their love for Gaddafi.

jesusonline's picture


"Air Attacks in Libya (EXCLUSIVE FOOTAGE)"

Reuters reports. BBC reports. CNN reports. Zerohedge reports.

Is there a George Bush among one of the Tylers?

"See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda."


Blankman's picture

MSM Spin:

Its not tear gas, the Libyans are crying tears of joy that Gadhafi is helping to keep peace in his country. They just love him soooo much. Just like us Americans love big ben and his applesauce quartet soooo much.

SilverRhino's picture

Could be worse; Libyan soldiers could be throwing mustard gas at them.

farmjohnny's picture

I just blew coffee out my nose

Overflow-admin's picture

3 Dutch marines captured in Libya, lynx helicopter seized.

Who said old school european colonizing behaviour sucks? Really, and what about directly going back to cold war insanity and going some DEFCON levels down?

YHC-FTSE's picture

Don't know if anyone else has mentioned this already, but Gaddafi should be running out of the cash he needs to pay his supporters and buy loyalty from his detractors. Libya does not print its own currency - it's outsourced to a small firm in NE England, and a ship carrying the money has been seized. Along with the £900million worth seized last week, Gadaffi is missing about £1 billion + worth of notes. He must be running out of currency in circulation by now, unless the mercs from Chad have started to accept his Amex black.

lsjcma's picture

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