Libyan Interior Minister Abdel Fatah Yunes and a top aide of Muammar Gaddafi's powerful son Saif resigned today, the latest to disown the regime of the defiant leader whose gunmen clamped down capital Tripoli while protesters claimed new gains in cities.
As Gaddafi vowed to crush unprecedented protests against his 41-year
rule despite global demands for an end to violence, Italian Foreign
Minister Franco Frattini claimed that the crackdown has killed as many
as 1,000 people and split Libya. Official figures given by Libyan
authorities put the toll at 300.
With much of the east said to be under control of the protesters, they
claimed new gains in cities and towns closer to the heart of Gaddafi's
regime in the Capital.
Protesters said they had taken over Misrata, which could be the largest
city in the western half of the oil-rich north African country.
"I announce my resignation from all my duties in response to the
revolution of February 17 (against Gaddafi)," Yunes, attired in a
military uniform, said on the pan-Arabic satellite channel Al-Jazeera.
Gen Yunes, who followed in the steps of Justice Minister Mustapha
Abdeljalil, called on the armed forces to join the revolt and respond to
the legitimate demands of the people.
Reports said that Youssef Sawani, a senior aide to Saif al-Islam
Gaddafi, one of Gaddafi's influential sons, also resigned from his post
in protest against the violence.
The resignations came a day after Abdeljalil quit in protest over the
"excessive use of violence" against protesters, and diplomats at Libya's
mission to the United Nations called on the army to help remove "the
tyrant Muammar Gaddafi".
Two air force pilots jumped from parachutes from their Russian-made
Sukhoi fighter jet and let it crash, rather than carry out orders to
bomb Libya's second largest city Benghazi, which is now under the
control of protesters. People let off firecrackers and honked their
horns to mark the end of days of bloodshed in Benghazi.
TV footage showed an empty jail burnt in Benghazi and Sky News showed
visuals of anti-aircraft missiles at what it said was an abandoned
military base near the eastern city of Tobruk.
Gaddafi has deployed troops to the west of Tripoli to try to stop a
revolt that started in the east from spreading. In the east, many
soldiers have withdrawn from active service and deserted the military
base near Tobruk.
Libyan diplomats in several countries have either resigned in protest
over the use of force, including the alleged firing by warplanes on
civilian targets, or renounced Gaddafi's leadership, saying they stood
with the protesters.
The Libyan Interior Ministry gave the first official death toll since
the uprising began a week ago, saying 300 people had died so far -- 189
civilians and 111 soldiers.
As countries across the world started evacuating their nationals trapped
in Libya, India and 14 other members of the powerful UN Security
Council strongly condemned the use of force against the peaceful
protesters and demanded an immediate end to violence in the country.
Libyan Interior Minister Quits, Clampdown in Tripoli
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