Libyans in Benghazi have been celebrating Friday prayers in the city for the first time since breaking away from Muammar Gaddafi’s rule.
Like a growing number of Libyan cities it is being run by a collection on people’s committees.
They also buried some of those killed in the rebellion, carried through the streets under the monarchist flag of the pre-Gaddafi Libya.
The rebellion is closing in on the capital Tripoli, where reports are emerging of security forces firing on protesters in a western suburb. But Gaddafi vowed in a television address to “triumph over the enemy” and urged his supporters to protect Libya and its oil interests.
In Misrata, Libya’s third city, and Zawiyah a stone’s throw from Gaddafi’s stronghold witnesses say his forces have turned tail. Many government troops and senior officers have also switched sides.
The government tried to strengthen its faltering grip on power by ordering fat cash handouts to families and big subsidies on food.
But the fighting has been fierce. French estimates put the number of dead at more than 2,000 so far.