The allegation could not be verified because of communications restrictions imposed by the Gadhafi regime, but
"There is bombing and screaming and people are running all over," Brakiah, a doctor in Benghazi, said in a telephone interview during which gunshots and blasts were frequently heard. "There is fighting. It continued from the early morning and up to now and it is increasing." She spoke on the condition her surname not be used.
Pro-reform protests inspired by the popular uprisings in
Protests also persisted in
The worst of the violence raged in
The mercurial dictator has presided over one of the region's most repressive regimes for more than 40 years, bolstered by revenues from oil production in which several major U.S. petroleum companies are involved.
Assessing the extent of the uprising has been difficult because the few foreign reporters based in
But telephone calls to residents, news reports and online posts on Twitter, Facebook and other social networking sites indicate that the unrest has spread throughout the cities and towns along the eastern shore of the Gulf of Sidra and to other areas. There were reports of clashes Sunday in the capital, the seat of Qadhafi's power.
The bloodshed in Benghazi escalated Sunday morning after troops and African mercenaries based in a major government compound opened fire on a funeral procession for people killed a day earlier, said several people reached by telephone.
Their account was corroborated by witnesses who were quoted by
"The situation in Benghazi is turmoil. Now there are
riots. All the people in Benghazi came out against troops of Gadhafi's
army," said Muftah, who studied for several years in
Several videos posted on YouTube seemed to back up his report. In one, thousands of people cheer men armed with assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenade launchers riding in a white pickup. The bloodied bodies of what were said to be two African mercenaries were lashed to the vehicle's hood.
Video posted on several websites shows a bloodied man described as an African mercenary being detained by a group of protestors. He tells them "I swear by God these were orders," and they keep asking "orders from who?" He answers "orders from the officers." Some of the men begin punching and picking him, and he falls to the ground. Others protect him and shout "no!"
Muftah, whose name is being withheld out of concern for his security, and the doctor, Brakiah, charged that more than 200 people were killed and hundreds injured on Saturday when pro-Gadhafi forces fired into a funeral procession.
When the procession "came close to one of Qadhafi's army camps, there was shooting from heavy machine guns," Muftah said. "They were firing mortars. You could hear the mortars from five kilometers away."
"It was a real massacre," said the doctor, Brakiah. She said at least 260 dead had been brought to three hospitals since the uprising erupted.
"We have raised to a number of Libyan officials, including Libyan Foreign Minister
Demonstrators clashed with security forces on
Large deployments of police, some mounted on motorbikes, charged the protesters at
In a video posted on an Iranian blogger's Facebook site, thousands of protesters are heard shouting "Mubarak,
Press TV, the state-run English-language satellite news channel, reported that Faezah Hashemi, the daughter of former President
The human rights group and posts by Iranian bloggers also spoke of clashes in the cities of Shiraz, Hamedan, Isfahan, Tabriz, and Rasht.
The protests were staged in defiance of government warnings, with a state news service claiming that protesters were in danger of being shot by armed infiltrators.
Over the square's statue of a giant pearl, youngsters flew several kites. A third of the square was filled with women, many carrying babies in the arms, others waving the Bahraini flag. Men smoked waterpipes as various activists took a microphone to lead the protesters in chants.
But worries about what was next lurked even as
protesters celebrated retaking the square a day earlier, after a
withdrawal of government forces and the delegation of U.S.-backed King
Opposition leaders said they are not convinced the ruling dynasty is serious about negotiations and thinks it only wants to reduce international pressure to compromise. So far, there have been no direct talks, opposition leaders said.
"They have known about our demands for the last 10 years," said
The opposition also has to sort out its own platform as well.
What began as a call for a constitutional monarchy to replace the current absolute monarchy turned into demands for the end to the monarchy altogether after the attacks on the protesters by government forces.
"People are approaching us and coming with ideas," Sharif said. "We need to reach consensus amongst the opposition."
The protests also spread to
(c) 2011, McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.