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article imageLibya in meltdown as foreign fighters arrive and nation splits

By Paul Wallis     Feb 23, 2011 in World
Tripoli - Eastern Libya is now flying the flag of the old Libyan monarchy. Foreign mercenary fighters are reported massing to support Libya's leader Col Gaddafi in the face of widespread defections from the Libyan military.
The appearance of the mercenary fighters indicates that Gaddafi is using his extensive contacts in the African Union and elsewhere. The floating population of fighters in Africa is huge. Some of the foreign fighters have since been captured and appear to be mainly Arabs.
A French witness has reported seeing at least 2000 deaths in the city of Benghazi and large numbers of merchant mercenaries from Chad and Nigeria, well armed and in large numbers. Snipers are reported to be in action against protesters.
Libya is now split into an eastern and western dichotomy. The East is controlled by anti-Gaddafi forces from Tobruk to Benghazi.
Fighting is reported in Tripoli and large numbers of people are already reported killed in the capital. Not much direct information is actually coming from the Gaddafi government. A recent statement from Libya Online included a large amount of almost incomprehensible English-translated rhetoric indicating that there had been an attempt to hold counter demonstrations last week in support of Gaddafi, but there is no later information from the source.
The BBC reports that pro-Gaddafi gunmen are in the streets and that a statement has been issued by Gaddafi’s son:
"The ports, schools and airports are all open," he said. "The problem lies in the eastern regions. Life is normal. Brothers, Libyans should come together in this national battle."
The gunmen were reported to be shooting wounded people in hospitals. Looting by troops has also been reported. Civil servants have been ordered to return to work by text message.
Foreigners are getting out of Libya any way they can, including literally fighting to get onto planes. 600 Nepalese workers have been reported heading to Egypt. An Air Malta pilot reported having to go into the terminal to "round up" passengers.
One Twitter report says that Gaddafi is offering $2500 per day to fighters.
Libyan diplomats in the UN rejected the brutality of the government attacks using helicopter gunships on anti-Gaddafi demonstrators. Two Libyan pilots flew to Malta rather than bomb protests.
Indian warships have been dispatched to Libya to evacuate Indian nationals.
Israel is permitting 300 Palestinians to be repatriated to the Palestinian area from Libya according to the Jerusalem Post.
The site Libya Our Home has a series of running updates including information that Wikileaks reported US State Department information regarding internal Gaddafi family fighting.
More about Libya protests, foreign mercenaries in Libya, Gaddafi, Benghazi, Tobruk
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