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Gadhafi clings to power as troops gun down protesters

Feb 21, 2011 8:41:00 PM - thestate.com
Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi was clinging to power Monday as his troops and mercenaries gunned down civilians and anti-government protesters in the Libyan capital of Tripoli, prompting international condemnation, and defections and cries of genocide from some members of his own government and military.

U.S. officials confirmed multiple reports from residents of aircraft strafing protesters on the outskirts of Tripoli. Mercenaries were firing indiscriminately into crowds, funeral processions and civilians' homes, and people were running out of food, potable water and medicine, residents said.

"The situation is serious and horrible," said a doctor reached by telephone at the city's main trauma center. He spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution should Gadhafi remain in power.

Libyan diplomats at the United Nations mission in New York and at other embassies worldwide broke with Gadhafi's regime Monday. Ibrahim Dabbashi, Libya's deputy U.N. representative, called on Gadhafi to resign and urged the world to speak out. The regime is committing "a real genocide against the Libyan people. Colonel Gadhafi is shooting his own people," Dabbashi said in an interview on the Al-Jazeera network.

The turmoil raged on the sixth day of an uprising against Gadhafi that has claimed hundreds of lives and left the second largest city, Benghazi, and other population centers on the country's eastern wing in the hands of troops who defected to the opposition and armed civilians.