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LIBYA: Protests persist as officials call on public to back security forces

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Libyan state television announced late Monday that the military had ‘stormed the hideouts of saboteurs’ and called on the public to back the security forces.

State television also showed images of hundreds of Moammar Kadafi supporters rallying in the capital’s Green Square on Monday evening, waving pictures of the Libyan leader and palm fronds.

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Meanwhile, anti-Kadafi protesters prepared for new demonstrations in Green Square and in front of Kadafi’s residence, according to the Associated Press. Protesters said they had taken over Benghazi after clashes Sunday, the Associated Press said, citing witnesses.

‘We need help from everybody, we need support, we need medical aid, we need somebody to stop this guy. He’s sending in mercenaries,’ a woman said minutes ago in a audio posting online from Tripoli. ‘It’s really bad out here, everyone’s getting killed.’

More audio posts can be heard on feb17voices. View the latest updates to the Google map mash-up of protests and deaths here.

The International Federation for Human Rights said more than 300 people have been killed nationwide during the past week. Human Rights Watch says at least 173 have been killed since Wednesday. Al Arabiya television said 160 died in Tripoli alone.

Monday evening, military planes could be seen swooping low over Tripoli, and snipers had taken position on roofs around the capital, apparently to stop people streaming in from outside the city to join the protests, according to Mohammed Abdul-Malek, a London-based opposition activist who spoke with the Associated Press after communicating with witnesses in Tripoli.

Communications into the capital appeared to have been cut late Monday, and mobile phones could not be reached from outside the country.

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An activist reached by Al Jazeera reported there were airstrikes ‘all over Tripoli.’

‘There is death, fear, and women are crying everywhere,’ the activist said. ‘The strikes are concentrated against areas that sent large numbers of protestors to the streets, and there are cars full of foreign fighters firing on people.’

The activists said at least 250 people had been killed during the last 24 hours and requested international help, saying Tripoli was ‘under siege by foreign fighters,’ that water and electricity have been cut and there is a shortage of food and medical supplies.

‘It is a genocide,’ he told Al Jazeera.

-- Molly Hennessy-Fiske

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