More Libya fighting amid fears of ''catastrophe''

"It''s a conservative figure based on hospital sources in eastern Libya, Benghazi and three other places,"HRW''s Tom Porteous said. "It is a very incomplete figure andthere are also a very large number of wounded.

"According to medical sources in Libya the woundsare indicative of heavy weapons being used against thedemonstrators," he added.

Earlier today, Porteous had said "we are veryconcerned that under the communication blackout that hasfallen on Libya since yesterday a human rights catastrophe isunfolding."

In other developments, a Libyan official told AFPsecurity forces had foiled an attempt to torch oil wells atthe Sarir field.

And in eastern Libya, Islamist gunmen stormed amilitary depot and the nearby port of Derna on Wednesday andFriday and seized weapons and vehicles after killing foursoldiers, a security official said.

They also took hostages, both soldiers andcivilians, and are "threatening to execute them unless a siegeby security forces is lifted" in nearby Al-Baida, the officialtold AFP, asking not to be named.

Justice Minister Mustafa Abdeljalil was negotiatingfor their release, he said.

Amnesty International urged Kadhafi to "immediatelyrein in his security forces amid reports of machine guns andother weapons being used against protesters and a spirallingdeath toll."

Britain has deplored what it branded a "horrifying"crackdown, and US President Barack Obama has condemned the useof violence against peaceful protesters in Libya, Bahrain andYemen.

Around 500 people gathered outside the Libyanembassy in London to protest against the crackdown, policesaid.

In an emotional but peaceful demonstration, BritishLibyans chanted in Arabic: "It''s our turn, it''s our turn,Kadhafi is a dictator."

"My country is swimming in a pool of blood. Peoplehave been massacred openly in the street. It''s a bloodbath,"said Abdelwahb Naas, 56, a doctor.

He said he had only heard "small words" from theinternational community so far about the violence, arguing:"They need to put more pressure on Kadhafi. There needs to bemore media coverage."

There was also a demonstration outside the Libyanembassy in Cairo.

But Tripoli "signalled" that "if the EU were tocontinue to encourage demonstrations, it would suspend itscooperation with the EU in the fight against illegalimmigration," said a Hungarian official, whose country holdsthe rotating EU presidency. (AFP)

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