At least 61 people were killed in clashes in Tripoli on Monday according to Al Jazeera as violent protests against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s 40-year rule spread across the country.
Human Rights Watch said at least 233 people have died so far in a new estimate released on Sunday, since the revolt erupted on February 14th.
Libya’s justice minister resigned and had joined the protestors and is now is trying to organize rallies in all the cities.
Ahmad Jibreel, a Libyan diplomat said key cities near Libya’s border with Egypt were now in the hands of protesters, which will enable foreign media to enter the country.
“Gaddafi’s guards started shooting people in the second day and they shot two people only. We had on that day in Al Bayda city only 300 protesters. When they killed two people, we had more than 5,000 at their funeral, and when they killed 15 people the next day, we had more than 50,000 the following day. This means that the more Gaddafi kills people, the more people go into the streets.”
Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, the son of the Libyan leader, warned that civil war will break out if anti-government protests continued to spread, blaming thugs, inmates, foreigners and Islamists for the unrest that erupted on February 14. And not unlike Mubarak, the regime has promised constitutional reforms.
Gaddafi’s son also said that Libyans should “forget oil and petrol” and prepare themselves for occupation by “the West” if they failed to reconcile their issues.
Al Jazeera senior political analyst Marwan Bishara said Saif Gaddafi’s speech appeared “desperate”:
“It sounded like a desperate speech by a desperate son of a dictator who’s trying to use blackmail on the Libyan people by threatening that he could turn the country into a bloodbath,” Bishara said.
“That is very dangerous coming from someone who doesn’t even hold an official role in Libya – so in so many ways, this could be the beginning of a nightmare scenario for Libya if a despotic leader puts his son on air in order to warn his people of a bloodbath if they don’t listen to the orders or the dictates of a dictators.”
“It’s also fascinating how he threatened the West with chaos in Libya and then threatened Libyans with Western intervention, because, as he put it, that would turn Libya into a decentralised country allowing various Islamist groups to take over, which the West would not allow,” Bishara said.
Awad Elfeituri from the Libyan Information Centre in Qatar said the young Gaddafi is in a state of panic now and is trying to send a message to the west. Elfeituri said the Gaddafi regime was still trying to do its best to hold onto power, saying: “I don’t think they will surrender easily.”