Libya's state-run radio said Libyans staged giant anti-American demonstrations in all of the country's major cities for a second day today, vowing to defend themselves against any attack by the United States and Israel.
"We are ready to face any attack by the American imperialists and Zionists; we are ready to fight and to join suicide squads," the demonstrators chanted, according to the Tripoli Radio report monitored in Nicosia.
There was no independent verification of the radio reports, and there was confusion in the reports themselves over whether the two-day demonstrations actually continued into today.
The State Department appealed Thursday for international sanctions against Libya. The United States and Israel charge that Libyan leader Moammar Kadafi supports a renegade Palestinian faction headed by Abu Nidal, which they blame for the Dec. 27 terrorist attacks at the Rome and Vienna airports that killed 19 people, five of them Americans.
Today, the State Department issued a further warning to 1,500 Americans living in Libya, saying they are endangered by that nation's leaders. Spokesman Charles E. Redman added, "We strongly oppose travel to Libya by American citizens because of the danger to their own welfare posed by the unpredictability of actions by the Kadafi regime."
CBS News reporter Steve Croft said in a report from Tripoli that many in the news media were not allowed to leave their hotel without a government escort.
"The streets of Tripoli are quiet this morning," Croft reported. "There's no visible sign of international tensions, increased security or unusual military activity, but it's a very narrow view from the Grand Hotel on Tripoli's waterfront, where reporters and cameramen have been staying for the last day and a half, more or less confined to quarters.
"We're not allowed to leave the hotel without a government escort and so far all requests to meet and talk with American workers have been turned down," he said.
In Naples, Italy, a U.S. Navy task force led by the aircraft carrier Coral Sea left today for an undisclosed Mediterranean destination after completing a holiday port call, an American military spokesman said.
Lt. Col. John Marchi, spokesman for U.S. Naval Support Activity in Naples, confirmed the task force departure and said it had been scheduled. He denied Italian newspaper reports that all leaves had been canceled for U.S. military personnel in Italy.
CBS News, quoting sources who demanded anonymity, reported Thursday that U.S. forces in the Mediterranean have been built up in case President Reagan calls for a retaliatory strike against Libya.
A Navy source told the Associated Press in Washington that the Coral Sea's battle group has been ordered to resume routine operations in the central Mediterranean but refused to confirm that any order had been given involving a "massing" of 6th Fleet ships.
Tripoli Radio said Libyans also held mass meetings Thursday night and sent cables to Kadafi declaring that they "are in the trenches and the front line ready to confront the Zionist . . . and the American imperialist threats against the Arab Libyan people."
The radio said Palestinian groups in the Libyan port city of Benghazi also sent cables to Kadafi, stating their readiness to die in Libya's defense.