Sunday, February 20, 2011

Benghazi controlled by Pro-Democracy - Al Jazeera LIVE BLOG

February 20 (ORIGINAL POST)
11:25 pm Online reports claim remaining pro-Gaddafi militia in Benghazi, around the Elfedeel Bu Omar compound, "are being butchered by angry mobs".  It is impossible to verify the claims, though Al Jazeera has spoken with several people in the city who say protesters control the city, as security forces flee to the airport.
11:30 pm Al Jazeera spoke to one protester on the phone, amid noisy crowds, who summarised the scene in Tripoli:
 About one hour ago, 1500 to 2,000 people gathered and they blocked all roads and they burned anything owned by the government on the way. They are now burning a picture of the president, which is why the noise is so loud and everybody's happy - there's a woman on the balcony singing and screaming and loving it. 
"We are in Tripoli, there are chants [directed at Gaddafi]: 'Where are you? Where are you? Come out if you're a man.' I believe we are heading toward Green Square, but to be honest, nobody controls these people and we are just going where we want.
"There are no police, no army, no security forces. Everything is blocked off by protesters - and, as we cross the town - where apartment buildings are filled with people who live here - we are picking people up on the way. Everybody has been waiting for this - and it's finally happening.
Al Jazeera asked if Gaddafi was trying to impose a curfew in the city.
 "To be honest with you, no-one is listening to anything he says any more. Apparently, the son was meant to come out and give a speech - and everybody said, you know: '42 years too late, mate. It's not going to happen now, we're not going to listen to you, you better make your move.'
Among the crowd, we obviously have people here who are pro-government who are trying to spread rumours. Somebody will say: 'Al Jazeera just said that Gaddafi has run away from Libya,' and so everybody thinks: 'Okay, let's go home,' and then they make some calls and find it's just a marketing campaign or something just to make us go home.
But I don't think anyone's ready to go home. To be honest with you now, I don't think these people are after Gaddafi. More than anything else now, they're after blood."
Al Jazeera: How are protesters coordinating? Do you have access to social media networks or the internet?
There is no internet whatsoever - email can be downloaded to offline inboxes, but internet access is down. Skype was working earlier, but I think that has stopped working now.
"As I'm talking to you now, looking left and right, I can see someone is holding a sword, someone else a baseball bat, pieces of wood with nails in it...  People now are coming from the other side. I can see a lot of running right now. I'm not sure where they're headed. Wait, now I can see they are surrounding a car.  We have seen a lot of cars full of Gaddafi supporters driving round in recent days and shooting at random. Now the crowd of people is attacking the car, beating it."

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