Nearly 100 killed in Libyan crackdown on unrest
By Tousif Khan - Sun Feb 20, 7:26 am
Libyan special forces stormed a two-day-old protest encampment in the country’s second largest city of Benghazi, clearing the area early Saturday, Feb. 19, 2011, said witnesses, as a human rights group estimate scores of people have died in the harsh crackdown on days of demonstrations.
Libyan forces opened fire on mourners leaving a funeral for protesters Saturday in the flashpoint city of Benghazi, and a medical official said 15 people were killed, with bodies piling up in a hospital and doctors collapsing in grief at the sight of dead relatives.
The deaths pushed the overall estimated death toll to 99 in five days of unprecedented protests against the 42-year reign of Moammar Gadhafi. Government forces also wiped out a protest encampment and clamped down on Internet service throughout the North African nation.
As relatives buried their dead, they fell victim to a mixture of special commandos, foreign mercenaries and Gadhafi loyalists armed with knives, Kalashnikovs and even anti-aircraft missiles trying to quell the demonstrations, witnesses said.
“The blood of our martyrs is still leaking from coffins over the shoulders of the mourners,” one female protester, who is also a lawyer, said while standing in front of about 20 coffins lined up in front of the Northern Court building in Benghazi, Libya’s second-largest city and the epicenter of the current unrest.
Before Saturday’s violence, Human Rights Watch had estimated at least 84 people have been killed.