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Fighting escalates in Libya -

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Fighting escalates in Libya

Broadcast: 25/02/2011

Reporter: Anne Barker

Reports are emerging from Libya of heavy fighting between anti-government protesters and forces
loyal to president Moamar Gaddafi.

Transcript

ALI MOORE, PRESENTER: The fate of Libya hangs in the balance tonight as Colonel Gaddafi clings to
power.

Forces loyal to president Gaddafi have staged a bloody fight-back in western towns near the
capital, Tripoli, as the eastern half of the nation declared itself free of his iron-fisted rule.

At least 100 people have died in and around Tripoli over the past few days.

Foreign governments have been scrambling to get their citizens out, while Libya's embattled leader
has blamed the uprising on al Qaeda and drugs.

Middle East correspondent Anne Barker reports.

ANNE BARKER, REPORTER: Every day more pictures emerge of the carnage that's taking place inside
Libya.

This amateur vision purportedly shows the horrific violence that broke out in the port city of
Benghazi, in Libya's east, a few days ago.

But both sides used deadly force.

Now, the horror of just a few days ago has given way to extraordinary jubilation, as tens of
thousands of Libyans in Benghazi celebrate their victory.

The ecstatic crowd demonstrates just how desperately many Libyans have craved for an end to Colonel
Gaddafi's 42-year dictatorship.

In Benghazi and other eastern towns the protesters are now in control.

The army has deserted its posts or joined them.

This military barracks was abandoned several nights ago.

There's clear evidence of a struggle, but the soldiers eventually sided with the Anti-Gaddafi
protests.

SOLDIER (TRANSLATION): Tobruk, Dirna, Benghazi, al-Bayda, Labraq, in all of these Gaddafi is
finished.

ANNE BARKER: Libya is now a nation divided, right down the middle.

The eastern half has been mostly freed from Gaddafi's rule.

But in the west, the fighting goes on.

At Zawiya, on the north-west coast, there have been heavy clashes between protesters and Colonel
Gaddafi's forces, and reports of more dead.

By most accounts, Moamar Gaddafi appears to control a shrinking share of the country.

Although in the capital, Tripoli, his troops are still on the streets and there are reports of
mercenaries making house-to-house searches.

The Libyan leader is determined to cling to power, blaming the violence on Al Qaeda.

MUAMMAR GADDAFI, LIBYAN PRESIDENT (TRANSLATION): it had become clear that who recruited our sons
was al Qaeda, Bin Laden, who is called an international terrorist. America, Europe and the whole
world is with us in fighting them.

ANNE BARKER: And he's denied he has any control to stop the violence.

MUAMMAR GADDAFI (TRANSLATION): I do not have the authority to sign decrees or laws or decisions or
orders or anything. Only a moral authority, a referential authority.

ANNE BARKER: The chaos in Libya is fuelling fears of an international humanitarian crisis, as tens
of thousands of people clamour to flee the violence.

More than 30,000 Egyptian and Tunisian migrant workers have fled Libya since Monday.

Countries all over the world are sending planes and warships in a desperate bid to evacuate their
nationals.

Anne Barker, Lateline.