Libya: Protesters, security forces clash in Tripoli

Cairo, Feb 21 (AP) Protesters and security forcesbattled in the center of Tripoli as anti-government unrestspread to the Libyan capital and Moammar Gadhafi''s son went onstate television to proclaim that his father remained incharge with the army''s backing and would "fight until the lastman, the last woman, the last bullet."

Since the six days of unrest began, more than 200people have been killed, according to medical officials, humanrights groups and exiled dissidents.

Even as Seif al-Islam Gadhafi spoke last night,clashes were raging in and around Tripoli''s central GreenSquare, lasting until dawn today, witnesses said. Theyreported snipers opening fire on crowds trying to seize thesquare, and Gadhafi supporters speeding through in vehicles,shooting and running over protesters.

Early today, protesters took over the office of two ofthe multiple state-run satellite news channels, witnessessaid.

The protests and violence were the heaviest yet in thecapital, a sign of the spread of unrest after six days ofdemonstrations in eastern cities demanding the end of theelder Gadhafi''s rule.

In Libya''s second biggest city, Benghazi, protesterswere in control of the streets Monday after days of bloodyclashes and were swarming over the main security headquarters,looting weapons, several residents said. A Turkish Airlinesflight trying to land in Benghazi on Monday was forced tocircle over the airport then return to Istanbul.

Protesters in Benghazi took down the Libyan flag fromabove the city''s main courthouse and in its place raised theflag of the country''s old monarchy, toppled in 1969 in themilitary coup that brought Moammar Gadhafi to power, onewitness said.

Libya has seen the bloodiest crackdown of any Arabcountry on the wave of protests sweeping the region thattoppled the leaders of Egypt and Tunisia.

Gadhafi''s son said his father would prevail.

"We are not Tunisia and Egypt," he said. "Moammar Gadhafi, ourleader, is leading the battle in Tripoli, and we are withhim."

"The armed forces are with him. Tens of thousands areheading here to be with him. We will fight until the last man,the last woman, the last bullet," he said in a rambling andsometimes confused speech of nearly 40 minutes.

He warned the protesters that they risked igniting acivil war in which Libya''s oil wealth "will be burned." Healso promised "historic" reforms in Libya if protests stop.

Seif has often been put forward as the regime''s face ofreform. (MORE) (AP)

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