Protests Escalate In Libya
ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:
NPR's Jason Beaubien has our story from Cairo.
JASON BEAUBIEN: In the regime's first official response to the mass demonstrations, Gadhafi's son, Saif al-Islam, warned on state-run TV last night that the country is on the verge of a civil war.
(SOUNDBITE OF TV BROADCAST)
M: (Through translator) Many of the ammunition depots have been stolen. We have arms. The army has arms and this force that wanted to destroy Libya does have arms. So everyone is armed. And therefore, we can have 40 years of civil war.
BEAUBIEN: Protesters claim that the government has brought in African mercenaries to put down the unrest. Also, the head of the influential al-Warfalla tribe in Eastern Libya today told the Al-Jazeera network that his tribe would cut off all oil exports if the crackdown on protesters doesn't stop. He also said Gadhafi should leave the country.
(SOUNDBITE OF PROTEST)
BEAUBIEN: In Cairo, protesters filled the streets in front of the Libyan embassy today, chanting, Egypt and Libya are one, and calling for Gadhafi to step down. Libyan Hussein Soufrakis(ph) says he's hearing from friends, relatives and sporadic media reports that security forces are shooting protesters in cold blood.
M: I mean, this is an extreme amount of lives lost. You know, when figures hit 20 and 25 here in Egypt, there was an uproar, an international uproar. We're hearing from anywhere between 200 to 1,000 now. I mean, this is bloodshed, this is massacre.
BEAUBIEN: Soufrakis says he worries that Gadhafi will never voluntarily step down. And, he says, only the army is still propping him up.
M: Sooner or later, the army is going to say, you know, we can't kill this many people of our own people. They just can't. They're going to have to join us. And we're hearing reports that a lot of the army top brass are beginning to flip. So, you know, this is what we're hoping, that for the love of their people, that they're going to come and see what's right.
BEAUBIEN: Jason Beaubien, NPR News, Cairo.
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