Sinn Fein continues to support mass murderer Libyan leader Muammar Gadafy even as his troops butcher men, women and children on the streets. One Sinn Fein member told the Irish Observer:
"Gadafy supported us when we needed support we are not going to turn our back on him just because he has to use force to break foreign backed trouble makers".
Tens of thousands gathered in Benghazi today for funerals of protesters killed by Libyan security forces as Human Rights Watch said overnight violence had doubled the death toll from four days of clashes to 173.
The crackdown by Libyan leader Muammar Gadafy, who has been in power for four decades, is shaping up to be the most brutal repression of the anti-government protests that began with uprisings that toppled the regimes in Tunisia and Egypt.
The protests then spread quickly around the region to Bahrain, Yemen, Libya, Algeria, Morocco and outside the Middle East to places including the East African nation of Djibouti and even China.
Reporters have not been allowed into Libya's second city but piecemeal accounts suggest its streets are largely under the control of anti-government protesters, who periodically come under attack from security forces firing out of their high-walled compound.
The New York-based Human Rights Watch said about 90 people had been killed today in clashes in Benghazi and surrounding towns running into the night, taking the death toll from four days of violence to 173.
However, a doctor at one city hospital said he had counted at least 200 dead in his morgue alone since unrest began six days ago.
A picture pieced together from witness accounts suggested that the city is in a cycle of violence, where people are killed and then, after funeral processions to bury the dead the next day, security forces shoot more protesters.
The Libyan government has not released any casualty figures or made any official comment on the violence. Twitter was abuzz with talk of unrest in Libyan towns other than Benghazi. Reports ranged from the use of mercenaries and aircraft to mortars and artillery against protesters, but with foreign media banned from entering the country, they were impossible to verify.
"A massacre took place here last night," one Benghazi resident, who did not want to be named, said by telephone. He said security forces were using heavy weapons, including anti-aircraft guns. "Many soldiers and policemen have joined the protesters,” he said.
A Benghazi hospital doctor said victims had suffered severe wounds from high-velocity rifles. Another witness, a leading tribal figure who requested anonymity, suggested the security forces remained confined to their control centre. "The state's official presence is absent in the city and the security forces are in their barracks and the city is in a state of civil mutiny," he said. "People are running their own affairs."
Libyan analysts say it is unlikely for the moment that Col Gadafy will be overthrown because the unrest is largely confined to the eastern Cyrenaica region where his support has traditionally been weaker than in the capital Tripoli, 1,000km to the west, and the rest of the country.
The crackdown prompted about 50 Libyan Muslim religious leaders to issue an appeal for the security forces, as Muslims, to stop the killing. "We appeal to every Muslim, within the regime or assisting it in any way, to recognise that the killing of innocent human beings is forbidden by our Creator and by His beloved Prophet of Compassion (peace be upon him) ... Do NOT kill your brothers and sisters. STOP the massacre NOW!" the appeal said.
Foreign reaction to the unrest in Libya, a major energy producer with significant foreign investment, has so far been muted, but Britain called for a stronger response. "The world should not hesitate to condemn those actions," foreign secretary William Hague told Sky News. "What Colonel Gadafy should be doing is respecting basic human rights, and there is no sign of that in the dreadful response, the horrifying response, of the Libyan authorities to these protests."
The UN High Commission on Human Rights today voiced “extreme concern” about the lack of international access to Libya to ascertain the nature of the crackdown on protesters.
Some analysts have said there may be negotiations between Col Gadafy and eastern tribal leaders, and an SMS message sent last night to Libyan mobile phone subscribers hinted at a more conciliatory approach. "All citizens and youth of Benghazi, those who died among the civilians and police are all sons of our country. Enough of what has happened and stop the bloodshed,” it said.
Libya's state news agency said some cities had seen acts of arson and vandalism, and blamed "a foreign network trained in creating clashes and chaos so as to destabilise Libya".
Meanwhile, unrest has also been seen in Bahrain, Iraq, Yemen, Kuwait, Algeria and Djibouti as people took to the streets demanding political and economic change.
Troops also fired in the air in a vain attempt to break up a protests by tens of thousands of people in Tunis, while thousands of protesters gathered in the Moroccan capital on Sunday to demand that King Mohammed give up some of his powers and clamp down on government corruption.
Authorities in Saudi Arabia detained activists trying to set up the kingdom's first political party.
In Bahrain, a key US ally and home to the US Fifth Fleet, thousands of protesters celebrated as they poured into Pearl Square after riot police pulled out. "We don't fear death any more, let the army come and kill us to show the world what kind of savages they are," said Umm Mohammed, a teacher wearing a black abaya.
Bahrain's government said it had opened a dialogue with opposition groups demanding reform.
In Egypt, a court approved the Wasat Party (Centre Party), the first new party to be recognised since former president osni Mubarak was overthrown this month, and an official said there would soon be a limited cabinet reshuffle.
In Yemen, one protester was killed and seven were hurt in clashes with supporters of President Ali Abdullah Saleh in Sanaa.
Riot police in Algiers prevented some 500 protesters marching in through the city centre.
Gunmen raided and set fire to a television station in northern Iraq today, shutting down broadcasts of protests inspired by unrest around the Arab world, station and government officials said.
The uprisings sweeping through the region also reached the tiny Horn of Africa state of Djibouti, where three leading opposition politicians were detained yesterday in a move to quash anti-government protests.
Djibouti, a former French colony between Eritrea and Somalia, hosts France's largest military base in Africa and a major US base. Its port is used by foreign navies patrolling busy shipping lanes off the coast of Somalia to fight piracy. Unemployment runs at about 60 per cent.
Sinn Fein's response is dispicable. They and their supporters should be ashamed.
Having said that, there's been no formal condemnation of the actions of Gadafy by western countries and the EU so far as I can tell. Too concerned about those precious oil reserves and immigaration, and so happy to snuggle up to a murderous tyrant.
Makes you proud...
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