While Ghaddafi loyalists have held the streets of the Libyan capital Tripoli, it has been a different story in several other cities.
Amnesty International now insists at least 46 people have been killed in the last three days of protests. Violence has broken out in Ajdabia, and in Al Bayda witnesses say troops are engaged in running battles with crowds who have been joined by defecting police for control of the town, which has seen some of the worst violence.
In the country’s second city Benghazi Colonel Gaddafi’s son Said has been ordered to take control as tens of thousands marched calling for an end to his father’s 42 years in power. In several incidents security forces were reported firing live ammunition into crowds.
The foreign media has limited access and reports are difficult to confirm but Gaddafi still enjoys considerable support in the countryside, has oil wealth to spread around, and a firmly-anchored security apparatus he can rely on.
However, reports late on Friday said authorities may have lost control of Al Bayda, where crowds burying their dead had earlier shouted “martyrs, martyrs” at their funerals.