Death toll in Libyan protests reaches 24, rights group says

Security forces have killed at least 24 people in a violent crackdown on peaceful pro-democracy demonstrations in Libya, Human Rights Watch said on Friday.

Reuters/Ismail Zitouny

The New York-based rights group, citing witnesses, said 24 protesters were killed and scores injured during assaults on Thursday’s Day of Anger protests in two Libyan cities.

A local medical official in Benghazi meanwhile reported that seven protesters were killed during protests in the country’s second city. Geneva-based Human Rights Solidarity, citing witnesses, said snipers in the city of Al-Baida east of Benghazi had shot 13 protesters dead.

The regime of veteran leader Moamer Kadhafi sought to crush the swelling opposition movement and organised its own pro-government rallies in the capital Tripoli and other cities.

But the unrest has been deepening as protesters use social networks and mobile phone messages to emulate pro-democracy movements across north Africa and call for marches.

Thursday’s protests were timed to mark the anniversary of a 2006 protest in which at least 12 protesters were killed, and came two days after clashes between protesters and security forces in Benghazi.

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