By Nangayi Guyson in Kampala Uganda – London – More than 640 people are believed to have been killed in Libya in protests against the regime of Muammar Gaddafi since they started last week, the International Federation for Human Rights (IFHR) said on Wednesday.
130 soldiers were executed by their officers in Benghazi for refusing to fire on crowds” of protesters, 275 dead in Tripoli and 230 dead in the protest epicentre in the eastern city of Benghazi, the IFHR’s Souhayr Belhassen told AFP.
The US President Barack Obama has condemned the violent crackdown by the Libyan authorities on peaceful protesters as “outrageous and unacceptable”.
Mr Obama said the world had to speak with “one voice”, and that the US was drawing up a range of options for action in consultation with its allies. The Libyan government would be held accountable for its actions, he added.
Gaddafi son’s reaction
Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s son Saadi Gaddafi who was once a professional soccer player in Italy told the Financial Times on Wednesday that his father will play a major role in any regime formed in the country but new blood will need to take over direct control and introduce reform.
“My father would stay as the big father who advises,” Saadi Gaddafi told the Financial Times by telephone from Tripoli, adding that up to 85% of Libya was “very calm and very safe”.
“Yes, there are people protesting against my father’s rule. It is normal. Everybody needs to be free to express their opinion,” he said in an interview published on the paper’s website. He said his brother Saif al-Islam was working on a new constitution and would make an announcement soon, although he gave no details, the FT said.
As many as 1 000 people have been killed since the uprising started, Saadi Gaddafi said ships and planes had been used to bomb ammunition depots near the eastern city of Benghazi but said these were not located near populated areas.
He said that destroying the weapons would prevent them falling into the wrong hands, saying there were “thousands” of al Qaeda militants in the country who were attempting to take control of the eastern region.
He also said the army would be sent to guard Libya’s hydrocarbons industry if necessary. “The army is still very strong,” he said. “If we hear anything, we will send some battalions. When people see the army, they will be afraid.”
Demonstrations broke out a week ago, with much of the east of the country now under the control of protesters.