Thursday, February 17, 2011

Libya cracks down on protesters after violent clashes in Benghazi

Reports of 38 injured in rioting after water cannon and teargas were used against estimated 6,000 people in Libya's second city

Ian Black, Middle East editor
The Guardian, Thursday 17 February 2011

"Hundreds of anti-government protesters clashed with police and government supporters in Libya's second city yesterday as unrest spread across the Arab world.

Reports from the city of Benghazi said 38 people were injured in rioting after a human rights lawyer was arrested on Tuesday. Film footage captured screams and the sounds of gunfire as crowds scattered. Water cannon and teargas were used against an estimated 6,000 people. Some protesters armed with stones and petrol bombs had set fire to vehicles and fought with police in the city's Shajara Square.

Opposition supporters accused the authorities of deliberately provoking trouble to spoil plans for a nationwide "day of rage" that had been called for .....

Libya's experience of the "Arab spring" could be different from that of its north African neighbours for several reasons. Its enormous oil and gas reserves and small population (6.5 million) mean it is relatively wealthy – four times as rich as Egypt – and can afford to buy off dissent.

It is also far less free than either of its neighbours, with a pervasive secret police and little in the way of a free media or independent institutions."

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