Libya unrest

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Libyan dictator Col Gaddafi has today blamed Osama Bin Laden for the protests rocking the country.

Citizens of the country have been demonstrating against the dictator’s rule for the past few days and the country is fragmenting as anti-Gaddafi rebels have taken control of several coastal towns and cities.

A BBC reporter in the city of Bengahzi, which was the start and centre of the revolt described how local residents joined protests in the streets and were fired on by a large military base in the city.

The residents responded with home-made petrol bombs and took control of the base two to three days later. The city is now more peaceful and the base is being used as a local tourist attraction.

This is on of many reports of government forces firing on protestors. As with each heavy gunfire can be heard around the latest hot-spot al-Zawiya, as protests intensify in the city.

 Two fighter jet pilots diverted to Malta and left their duties after being told to fire on civilian protestors. It is difficult to verify information from Libya at the moment and there are mixed reports regarding the number of casualties in the country.

General reports suggest more than 300 civilian deaths in Benghazi along with those of 120 members of government forces, the Human Rights Watch also quoted this figure. 

However the International Federation for Human Rights says at least 700 people have been killed, while Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said estimates of 1,000 dead were “credible”.

Col Gaddafi refuses step down and will “die a martyr” in Libya, but the recent violence against protesters has ruined any credibility he may have had and now many sources believe the repression of his people will no longer be enough to keep him in power.

His blaming today of Bin Laden for the unrest shows the pressure that the dictator is feeling. The media are describing this latest statement as a cheap shot as the protests are not related to religion and the international jihadist movement has very much been sidelined by the movements in the Middle East.

There is concern as to what will happen when Gaddafi is no longer in control as, unlike Egypt and Tunisia, the country does not have any of the organisations that can ease the transitional period such as trade unions, political parties or any opposition to Gaddafi. His rule has seen the country’s governmental system very much personalised around himself and his family.

Much of the country are now turning to the military to oust the leader and guide the country through the transitional process to a new era.

[events in Libya are changing every hour, please follow this link for live updates from the BBC news website http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-12307698]

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