Libyans rage as Kadhafi son warns of ''war''

Written by: Pti
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Tripoli, Feb 21 (AFP) Angry Libyan protesters attackedthe state broadcaster and set government buildings ablazetoday as the son of leader Moamer Kadhafi warned the countryfaces civil war and "rivers of blood".

With gunfire crackling in the streets of Tripoli, andHuman Rights Watch putting the death toll at 233 sinceThursday, Saif al-Islam Kadhafi vaguely promised reforms as hecondemned the revolt as a foreign plot.

The elder and famously mercurial Kadhafi, 68, thelongest-serving leader in the Arab world, remained out ofsight as a human rights group said several cities were in thehands of the protesters, including Sirte where he has longreceived foreign visitors.

"Libya is at a crossroads. If we do not agree today onreforms... rivers of blood will run through Libya," he said ina fiery but rambling televised speech that betrayed a note ofdesperation within his father''s 41-year regime.

"We will take up arms... we will fight to the lastbullet. We will destroy seditious elements. If everybody isarmed, it is civil war, we will kill each other... Libya isnot Egypt, it is not Tunisia."

Within hours of the statement, protesters in the capitalTripoli attacked state broadcast offices and set branches ofthe People''s Committees that are the mainstay of the regimeablaze overnight, witnesses told AFP today.

"The headquarters of Al-Jamahiriya Two television andAl-Shababia radio have been sacked," one witness said bytelephone on condition of anonymity.

Broadcasts on both channels were interrupted on Sundayevening but resumed on Monday morning.

A number of witnesses said protesters had torched publicbuildings in the capital overnight, including the interiorministry, People''s Committee offices and also police stations.

"Protesters burned and ransacked the ministry of interiorbuilding," in central Tripoli, one witness told AFP by email.

Earlier, heavy gunfire erupted in central Tripoli andseveral city areas for the first time since the uprising beganin eastern Libya, witnesses and an AFP journalist reported.

"When we heard the unrest was approaching, we stocked upon flour and tomatoes. It''s definitely the end of the regime.

This has never happened in Libya before. We are praying thatit ends quickly," the resident of a suburb east of Tripolitold AFP in Cairo by telephone.

"Our neighbour was killed last night," added anotherTripoli resident in the centre of the capital. "There is a lotof shooting outside. No one from our family has gone to worktoday."

Several cities, including Libya''s second most populousBenghazi, where the protest movement started, have fallen todemonstrators following the defection of some army units, theInternational Federation for Human Rights said on Monday.

It put the death toll since the start of the uprising at300 to 400.

Saif al-Islam Kadhafi, 38, who holds no formal governmentpost but wields vast influence as his father''s heir apparent,suggested that Benghazi was out of government control. (AFP)

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