Hundreds of Libyans calling for the government's ouster clashed with security forces firing rubber bullets and water cannons early Wednesday in the country's second-largest city as Egypt-inspired unrest spread to the country long ruled by Moammar Gadhafi.
The protest in Benghazi was triggered by the arrest Tuesday of a Libyan activist but quickly took on an anti-government tone, witnesses and activists said. The protest was relatively small in size, but it signaled anti-government activists have been emboldened by the recent wave of uprisings.
Activists using Facebook and Twitter have called for nationwide demonstrations on Thursday to call for Gadhafi's ouster, a constitution and comprehensive political and economic reforms.
Tuesday's demonstration began in front of the local security headquarters after Libyan troops raided the house of rights advocate Fathi Tarbel in Benghazi and took him away, according to a Switzerland-based activist Fathi al-Warfali.
Tarbel was released after meeting with a powerful Libyan security official, Abdullah al-Sanousi, but the protesters proceeded to march through the coastal city to the main downtown plaza, he said.