Ban asks Libya to stop violence against protesters

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Anti-government protesters took to the streets of Tripoli, in a revolt that started from Benghazi, whereGaddafi''s grip has traditionally been weaker.

Al Jazeera reported that tribal leaders too spoke outagainst Gaddafi, while some army units defected to opposition.

Protesters appeared to be largely in control in thecoastal city of Benghazi, where government buildings were setablaze after security forces were forced to retreat.

Meanwhile, other reports said that two Libyan fighterjets with four military personnel on board reached Malta,having fled the Benghazi air base that was taken over byprotesters.

As the situation worsened in the country, the USasked all its non-essential staff to leave Libya. Washingtonalso advised its citizens to avoid travelling to the country.

Meanwhile, international outrage grew over thebloodshed in Libya.

UN cief Ban-Ki-moon asked Gaddafi to bring to an endthe "escalating violence" in the country and expressed concernover the use of force against peaceful protesters.

European Union foreign ministers in Brusselscriticised the Libyan government and condemned "the ongoingrepression against demonstrators in Libya and deplores theviolence and death of civilians".

French President Nicolas Sarkozy also criticised whathe called the "unacceptable use of force" in Libya and calledfor an "immediate halt" to violence.

The US, meanwhile, said it was considering all optionsin response to the crackdown launched on protesters, hoursafter Gaddafi''s son appeared on national television andpledged to take the fight "to the last man standing".

British Prime Minister David Cameron, who is visitingEgypt, termed the crackdown "appalling". PTI

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