Libyan protesters defiant against Gaddafi’s security forces

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

CAIRO/TRIPOLI - Clashes continued across Libya Tuesday as forces loyal to leader Muammar Gaddafi fought to regain control over areas taken over by protesters.

Witnesses from around 25 km south of the capital Tripoli said tanks and anti-aircraft crews were deployed at all major intersections, activists reported in messages posted online.

Clashes continued in the western part of the country, as security forces tried to regain control of Al-Zawiyah city.

The violence came one day after residents of Libya’s third largest city, Misurata, said they had shot down an aircraft that was flying over the city. Other witnesses said it was a helicopter and its crew were captured by anti-government protesters.

But while protesters have seized control of the eastern part of the country, Gaddafi late Monday denied that there were demonstrations taking place against him, saying that his people loved him and were willing to lay down their lives for him.

“No, no one is against us … They love me all. They will die to protect me, my people,” he told the BBC in an interview, as he laughed at the suggestion he would leave Libya.

On Monday, the European Union imposed sanctions on the country, banning arms supplies as well as imposing a visa ban and asset freeze on Gaddafi and 25 of his family members and associates.

Violent clashes erupted Feb 15 in the eastern city of Benghazi, where demonstrators began calling for the ouster of Colonel Gaddafi, who grabbed control of the country in a coup in 1969. The fighting then spread across the country, leaving hundreds dead.

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