Libya on the verge of civil war – that was the warning from Gaddafi’s son as the unrest reached the capital.
According to reports, protesters now appear to be largely in control of Libya’s second city Benghazi after forcing troops and police to retreat to a compound. An army unit is also said to have defected to the protesters’ side.
The protests prompted a televised address from the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s son, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi. He both threatened and warned those who have taken to the streets.
While promising talks on reforms, he blamed Libyan exiles for stirring up the violence and said the army would enforce security at any price.
“We will keep fighting until the last man standing,” he announced ominously.
At least 223 people are reported to have been killed and countless injured mainly in Benghazi, where Gaddafi senior’s grip has always been weaker than in Tripoli.
While footage from foreign news agencies is hard to come by, amateur video appears to support claims the unrest has reached the capital. A REUTERS journalist reported on Monday morning that a central government building in Tripoli was on fire. Witnesses talk of gunfire and tear gas in the biggest challenge to Muammar Gaddafi’s four decade rule.