TRIPOLI — The son of Libya's strongman Moamer Kadhafi warned Monday the country would be destroyed by civil war if protests end his father's rule, in a speech broadcast as bursts of gunfire broke out in Tripoli.
Saif al-Islam Kadhafi offered reforms to end the violent uprising gripping the country, but he warned the protests were a foreign plot and would be crushed in a "bloodbath" if the government's offer was rejected.
The turbulence gripping the Arab world following the revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia also spread to Morocco, where thousands rallied for change across the country.
And Bahrain's Sunni Muslim ruling family came under increased pressure to open meaningful negotiations with the Shiite-led opposition, as protesters refused to be bowed and camped out in the capital Manama's Pearl Square.
The deadliest confrontations were in Libya, where Human Rights Watch said it feared a catastrophe with at least 173 people dead after a brutal government crackdown on demonstrators demanding an end to Kadhafi's 41-year iron rule.
Intense gunfire was heard in the heart of Tripoli and several quarters of the city Monday for the first time since the uprising began, but sounds of celebration also rang out to produce a confused picture.
"Libya is at a crossroads. If we do not agree today on reforms, we will not be mourning 84 people, but thousands of deaths, and rivers of blood will run through Libya," Kadhafi's son said in a speech that gave a lower death toll.