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Libya (and Beyond) LiveBlog: Into the Abyss?

2255 GMT: We are going to take an overnight break and resume early Thursday morning. Coverage continues on the Live Feed from Al Jazeera English.

2210 GMT: Barack Obama has just made his statement on Libya, "We strongly condemn violence in our condolences...bloodshed outrageous...violence must stop." He continued, "These are human rights. They are not negotiable. It's important for the international community to speak with one voice."

Obama did make an advance beyond Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's silence (see 2023 GMT) on action: he said he had asked his administration for a full range of options to respond to this crisis --- with allies or other institutions.

Those last words are importantly, as they indicate that the US President is wary of moving unilaterally.

2105 GMT: In Egypt, an opposition coalition --- including the Wafd Party, the Nasserist Party, the Tagammu Party, the newly founded al-Wasat Party, the Muslim Brotherhood, and youth representatives --- has called for the replacement of Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq’s government with a technocratic government during the transitional period to elections.

Coalition members called on citizens to stage a million-person demonstration in Tahrir Square in Cairo on Friday to press the demand.

The coalition also demanded a new Constitution for a parliamentary state, the dismantling of the state security apparatus, the ending of the state of emergency, the release of all political prisoners, and the dismantling of the National Democratic Party and of corrupt local councils.

Egypt's Constitutional Amendment Committee has said that it will present its recommendations to the Supreme Military Council within the next couple of days.

Sources said the committee has agreed to remove an article allowing suspects to be arrested, investigated, and monitored without judicial supervision, approval, or warrants.

The committee has also reportedly agreed that an article will be amended to ensure judicial supervision over the voting process.

Egyptian authorities have postponed the start of the second term at universities by one week.

2100 GMT: Saif Al Islam Qaddafi, the son of the Libyan leader, has told State TV that "life is normal, ports and airports are all open". He continued, "The problem lies in eastern regions."

A sign of that normality, according to CNN's Nic Robertson: "At border, people fleeing Libya telling us so many thousands people crammed into Tripoli airport, couldn’t even get into the building."

2055 GMT: Very graphic video has been posted which claims to be of Libyan soldiers bound and shot for refusing to attack protesters.

2030 GMT: The Qatari Ambassador has left Libya, according to a Libyan official.

The Qaddafi regime has blamed the Qatar-based Al Jazeera for fomenting the uprising.

2023 GMT: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has just made a statement, "We have made it absolutely clear we strongly condemn the violence in Libya and call for the end of violence." Calling for the international community to act, she said, "The Libyan govt will be held accountable for the actions it is taking."

However, Clinton gave no indication of specific action to be taken.

2020 GMT: An activist reports that Tajoura is under siege by Gaddafi forces, with reports of tanks used in attack.

Earlier today (1705 GMT) it was reported that Tajoura, 10 miles from Tripoli, had fallen to the opposition.

Al Arabiya is reporting that the Al Moatasim Battalion, loyal to the regime, is moving to destroy oil fields and refineries.

2015 GMT: A French doctor working in Benghazi in Libya has told AFP that more than 2000 have died "from Tobruk to Darna" in eastern Libya in the uprising. He claimed that the regime has been using mercenaries from Chad and Niger.

1815 GMT: Libyan journalist Atef al-Atrash, a contributor to several websites, including Libya-Watanona and Libya al-Mustakbal, is still missing.

Al-Atrash disappeared after reporting live on Al-Jazeera from demonstrations in Benghazi on 17 February.

1705 GMT: Nick Kristof of The New York Times writes, "Amazing: I hear by phone that Tajoura, Libya, less than 10 miles from Tripoli, has fallen. Rebel flag flying over it."

1640 GMT: Protesters in Misurata said they have wrested the west Libyan city from government control, and in a statement on the Internet, army officers stationed in the city pledged "total support for the protesters".

The development is significant because Misurata would be the first city outside eastern Libya to fall into the hands of the opposition.

1635 GMT: Nick Kristof of The New York Times reports, "Libya military officer tells me 3 naval ships ordered to sail to Benghazi to attack it. Crew torn about what to do."

1620 GMT: Lots of chatter that the aircraft carrying Aisha Qaddafi, daughter of the Libyan leader, has been denied landing, first in Beirut, Lebanon, and then in Malta.

1615 GMT: The Libyan Deputy Foreign Minister has warned journalists who have entered the country illegally that they face arrest unless they surrender to the authorities.

With the regime's guards leaving the border with Egypt, journalists have been crossing into the eastern part of the country over the last 24 hours. Those areas are in the hands of the opposition; however, there are reports of the regime's mercenaries roaming in the area, especially at night.

1610 GMT: Thanks to James Miller of EA and Dissected News for running the LiveBlog for the last few hours.

1544 GMT: The Guardian's correspondent Martin Chulov is in Benghazi, Libya, where anti-government protesters have effectively occupied the city. Here are some of his updates from the last hour:

Protesters stole bull dozers to break into the army base. At least a dozen still wedged against walls.

Intensive care unit in Benghazi still full of casualties from weekend govt crack down. At main army base in Benghazi. A slaughter house. Hundreds died here. Base destroyed. Blood still on the streets.

Ghaddafi's parade ground inside the base destroyed. Army defectors circling sts in pick-ups. Still in uniform. Ghaddafi's house in Benghazi ransacked by looters. 

1455 GMT: In Yemen, seven parliament members have resigned from President Ali Abdullah Saleh's ruling party to protest the recent violent crackdown against protesters. 

1438 GMT: According to Reuters, Libya's Quryna newspaper is reporting that an air force plane has crashed near the eastern city of Benghazi after the crew was ordered to bomb the city. Apparently, the crew refused and bailed out of the aircraft.

Benghazi, in the eastern part of Libya, is believed to be in the control of anti-government forces.

1420 GMT: Bahraini blogger Ali Abdulemam has been released. Yesterday, the King of Bahrain announced he would be released around 100 political protesters, including Ali, who was arrested in September. Ali Abduleman was the administrator for Bahrain Online (blocked in Bahrain), and the government has changed the charges against Ali several times in an attempt to find a reason to keep him in prison.

1120 GMT: Martin Chulov of The Guardian continues to report from Benghazi in "free" Libya, "Air force major tells me of witnessing 4k african mercenaries arriving from feb 14 --- 'That's why we turned against them'. Mass defection of the military here. Beyond a critical mass."

1100 GMT: There is a fire in the Egyptian Minister of Interior building in Cairo. The cause is uncertain.

Al Masry Al Youm is indicating that the fire is linked to a demonstration by police outside the building.

Photo: Fouad Jernoc

1020 GMT: French President Nicolas Sarkozy has called for the cutting of trade and economic ties with Libya.

The French are also pressing for European Union consideration of sanctions.

0933 GMT: Reuters reports that Sulaimaniya in Iraqi Kurdistan has turned into "a militarized city" amidst anti-government protests.

About 3000 people demonstrated on the streets on Tuesday and thousands of students rallied at Sulaimaniya University against corruption and the local government.

Three people have died so far and more than 100 have been wounded in clashes between protesters and heavily armed militia forces linked to the two Kurdish ruling parties.

0930 GMT: Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah, who has been abroad for medical treatment, has announced a series of economic reforms including housing and other benefits.

The social security budget will be increased by 1 billion riyals and housing fund by 40 billion riyals, with a 15% cost of living allowancefor government employees made permanent.

0925 GMT: Juan Cole offers this useful summary and map:


If we begin at the eastern border of Libya with Egypt this morning and move west, we find the country is now divided in two, with the east largely in the hands of dissidents and the West still under the thumb of Qaddafi’s security forces. The border with Egypt is in the hands of the Youth Movement, and the Egyptian government at the Bedouin village of Sallum (pop. 14,000) is allowing the border to remain open, permitting supplies and medicine to flow into the eastern cities. This Egyptian policy is tacit support for the revolt.


Then Tobruk is in dissident hands, with what soldiers there are having joined the revolt and now directing traffic and keeping order for the new, civic leadership. Tobruk, a city of 300,000 (about 5% of Libya’s population), is the last major stop in the east on the way to the Egyptian border.


0900 GMT: Al Jazeera English reports that the Network of Free Ulema in Libya, a group of religious scholars, have endorsed "new Libyan government" formed in Benghazi.

0845 GMT: Martin Chulov of The Guardian reports from Benghazi in Libya, "Everything closed. Feels abandoned. Comms down. Hospitals full. No sign of Ghaddafi's people."

Reuters reports that a senior aide to Saif al-Islam Qaddafi, son of the Libyan leader, has resigned in protest against violence.

0825 GMT: AnonNews has posted emergency information for Libya on communications, Internet access, and medical treatment.

0815 GMT: In Egypt, a fact-finding committee has concluded that police deliberately opened fire on anti-regime demonstrators, both with rubber bullets and live ammunition. It also declared that police armored vehicles deliberately ran over demonstrators in Cairo.

The committee said there were "indications" of police involvement when camel-mounted pro-regime men attacked demonstrators in Cairo's Tahrir Square on 2 February.

0810 GMT: A series of reports from Al Arabiya and France 24 Arabic....

A Libyan army brigade in the Jebel Akhdar area in the east has announced that it is joining the "people's revolution".

Peru has cut diplomatic ties with Libya.

The Libyan Ambassador to Azerbaijan has resigned.

0800 GMT: An opposition MP says Bahraini authorities have begun fulfilling King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa's promise to free 50 political prisoners, including 23 accused of plotting a coup.

0720 GMT: A Libyan military spokesman says the death toll in the uprising is 189 civilians and 111 military.

Human Rights Watch, as of yesterday, put the civilian death toll at 560.

0710 GMT: Al Jazeera English offer an overview of Libya's tribal structure, a key element in the political situation and Muammar Qaddafi's future.

0700 GMT: More on Tuesday's gunfire in Sanaa in Yemen, which killed two anti-regime protesters and wounded 10, from The New York Times....

A makeshift medical clinic treated the wounded until ambulances arrived. Protesters surrounding the clinic chanted, “There is no God but God.” About 2000 remained on Tuesday night after the shooting. 

Witnesses said the clash began when pro-regime and anti-regime camps began hurling rocks back and forth over the heads of about 10 members of the security forces.

The security forces began to shoot live ammunition in the air, but then pro-regime demonstrators started to run toward the students, shooting automatic weapons and pistols. Witnesses said police ran away.

A Government official claimed anti-government protesters also fired live ammunition at the pro-government demonstrators, killing one and wounding more than a dozen, but foreign journalists at the scene said they did not see such an attack.

0650 GMT: Ben Wedeman of CNN reports from eastern Libya, "Saw police station in Tobruk main square torched. Other buildings sacked. Banks other installations untouched. Egypt doctors with medical supplies waiting hrs to cross into Libya. Haven't seen signs of widespread looting. Even properties known to belong to Qaddafi family seem spared."

0540 GMT: Inevitably, we begin this morning with Libya. Trying to get some sense out of the situation on the ground and the words from Muammar Qaddafi's mouth, we post the analysis, "Toward the Last Battle of Tripoli".

Beyond the news in Tuesday's LiveBlog, one rumour to chase: State media is reporting that the Minister of the Interior, Major General Abdul Fatah Younis, has been kidnapped hours after he dramatically broke ranks with Qaddafi --- his friend and ally since the regime took power in 1969 --- by resigning and calling on the armed forces to join the "February 17 Revolution". 

This could be disinformation: in his speech yesterday, made just before Younis announced his departure, Qaddafi said the Minister of Interior had survived an assassination attempt. Or it could be a pre-emptive strike by the Libyan leader: Younis said late last night that the assassination attempt was by Qaddafi's own men, and today's rumour may be a signal that Younis has indeed been removed from the scene by abduction or worse.

The Libyan developments swamped events that, on any other day, would have brought banner headlines. In Bahrain, one of the largest protests challenging the regime took place in the capital Manama, with tens of thousands taking to the streets and then moving to Pearl Roundabout. 

The political situation is still close to suspension, with no moves towards significant talks between the Khalifa monarchy and the opposition.

In Egypt, about 4000 protesters gathered in Tahrir Square in Cairo, even as "normal" traffic revolved around them, to insist on the end of the Emergency Law, the release of political prisoners, and the prosecution of former Government members. A limited reshuffle of the Supreme Military Council's Cabinet --- overlooked by almost all non-Egyptian media --- has brought little change, and the country's Stock Market remains closed.

Last night,  the newly-appointed Deputy Prime Minster Yehia al-Gamal on Tuesday launched an attack on his own Government, pointing to the presence of "certain ministers" accused by the public of corruption.

“I have no personal differences with them,” he said. “But I side with the public in this matter.”

Al-Gamal also said he had briefed Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq on the issue: “The prime minister told me that it was up to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces to replace these ministers.”

And in Yemen, two anti-regime demonstrators were killed and 10 were wounded on Tuesday in an attack of gunfire upon the protesters' camp.

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