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Published On: Mon, Feb 21st, 2011

Muammar Gaddafi Under Threat As Revolt Hits Tripoli

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TRIPOLI (ANN) Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s four-decade-old rule appeared in increasing jeopardy on Monday when days of anti-government protests reached the capital for the first time and security forces killed dozens of people. Military aircraft fired

live ammunition at crowds of anti-government protesters in the capital Tripoli, Al Jazeera television said on Monday quoting witnesses. No independent verification of the report was immediately available.

Residents said several cities in the east appeared to be in the hands of the opposition as protests spread from Benghazi, the cradle of a popular uprising that threatens to overthrow one of the Arab world’s most entrenched governments.

One of Gaddafi’s sons said the veteran leader would fight the revolt until “the last man standing”.

Protesters rallied in Tripoli’s streets, tribal and religious leaders spoke out against Gaddafi, and army units defected to the opposition in a revolt that has cost the lives of more than 200 people.

Some analysts suggested Libya was heading for civil war.

“Libya is the most likely candidate for civil war because the government has lost control over part of its own territory,” said Shadi Hamid, director of research at the Brookings Doha Center in Qatar.

“I think what’s going to happen is going to be much more chaotic than what we saw in Egypt or Tunisia. Gaddafi and his sons don’t have anywhere else to go…They are going to fight,” said North Africa analyst Geoff Porter, contributor to political risk consultancy Wikistrat.

“LAST, DESPERATE ACTS”

Output at one of Libya’s oil fields was reported to have been stopped by a workers’ strike and some European oil companies withdrew expatriate workers and suspended operations. Most of Libya’s oil fields are in the east, south of Benghazi.

Anti-government protests have also broken out in the central town of Ras Lanuf, the site of an oil refinery and petrochemical complex, Libya’s Quryna newspaper said on its website on Monday.

A Libyan man, Soula al-Balaazi, who said he was an opposition activist, told the network by telephone that Libyan air force warplanes had bombed “some locations in Tripoli”.

An analyst for London-based consultancy Control Risks said that indicated the end was approaching for Gaddafi.

“These really seem to be last, desperate acts. If you’re bombing your own capital, it’s really hard to see how you can survive, ” said Julien Barnes-Dacey, Control Risks’ Middle East analyst.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said earlier that Gaddafi might be heading for Venezuela, which is ruled by his friend President Hugo Chavez, but a senior government source in Caracas denied that.

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Sources ; NBC

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