Unconfirmed eyewitness reports from Benghazi in Libya say dozens of people have been shot dead during protests on Saturday, many killed by snipers who had holed up in a compound before opening fire on the crowds.
At least 15 bodies were reported by one doctor coming into one Benghazi hospital, with hundreds more wounded. An Italian resident said the city was “out of control”, with local government offices and police stations burned down.
The government is blaming this week’s rioting on a network of foreign Arabs it says it has captured, but few more details have emerged to back that claim. Western reporters are not allowed access to Libya, and the internet has been cut off since Friday.
What is clear is that large parts of the east of the country have flared into revolt, especially Benghazi and in Al Bayda. Amnesty International says before Saturday’s incidents 84 people had died, but the trouble is not nationwide.
In Tripoli Colonel Gaddafi’s son Saadi, who has been given command of Benghazi, led a rally in support of his father, who seems to be uncontested in the capital.