Posts Tagged ‘Tripoli’

Tripoli on the Brink: Showdown in the Streets

By Bruce Crumley, courtesy of TIME 

A frame grab from Libyan state television broadcast on February 24, 2011 shows burnt cars in Tripoli, Libya.

AFP / Getty Images

When Rahma started her conversation over the phone, she said the shooting outside her home, in the streets of Tripoli, had calmed. It had been a terrible Friday. "After prayers, around 6,000 people gathered to denounce the regime, and soon after that, soldiers opened fire and killed two people," said the 21-year old woman, an employee for an oil company. But, 20 minutes after we began talking, she suddenly says, "I’m hearing shots again — a lot of them now. It’s getting worse" The terrible day was not yet over.

As more and more cities joined the ranks of "Free Libya," Tripoli is increasingly the theater for what looks to be Muammar Gaddafi’s last stand. Almost on cue, anti-regime forces, reportedly bearing arms taken from arsenals and swelled by the ranks of defecting soldiers, are bringing the battle to the capital from the so-called liberated zones. And for their part, thousands of residents of the capital took to the streets today, following Friday prayers, in a procession that kept on growing in size as it headed for Tripoli’s central plaza, Green Square. The regime’s troops responded by opening fire.

Rahma tells TIME she was out among the crowds earlier on Friday, but had been inside at home after hearing from family members elsewhere in the city that troops had shot unarmed marchers. At mid-afternoon, people she knew at the march told her that their numbers had grown to around 10,000 people. "The nearer to Green Square they get, the more people come out to join them," she says. "The soldiers are shooting more to reverse that, but it isn’t working. The soldiers may shoot people, but more citizens will come to replace them."

Like most other Libyans, Rahma has relied on cell phone communication to get updates on events, though not all information is easy to vet. "It’s very difficult to confirm everything you hear, and there are…
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