The numbers vary from news source to news source but it seems certain that the number of people murdered by Libyan security forces is over 100.
According to the Independent
, Human Rights Watch (HRW) estimates the death toll at 104 people have been killed since the start of protests in Libya. It believes, however, that this is a conservative estimate.
The crackdown prompted about 50 Libyan Muslim religious leaders to issue an appeal, sent to Reuters, for the security forces, as Muslims, to stop the killing:
"This is an urgent appeal from religious scholars, intellectuals, and clan elders from Tripoli, Bani Walid, Zintan, Jadu, Msalata, Misrata, Zawiah, and other towns and villages of the western area," said the appeal. We appeal to every Muslim, within the regime or assisting it in any way, to recognize that the killing of innocent human beings is forbidden by our Creator and by His beloved Prophet of Compassion (peace be upon him)...Do NOT kill your brothers and sisters. STOP the massacre NOW!"
Libya's state news agency unsurprisingly has accused outside agencies for fomenting discontent” "a foreign network trained on how to create clashes and chaos so as to destabilise Libya."
Witness accounts have been hard to verify independently because Libyan authorities have not allowed foreign journalists into the country since the protests erupted and local reporters have been barred from travelling to Benghazi. Mobile phone connections have often been out of service and Internet service in Libya has been cut off. However, People in Tripoli said they had Internet access late on Saturday.
A Benghazi resident said security forces were confined to a compound from which snipers were firing at protesters. "Right now, the only military presence in Benghazi is confined to the Command Centre Complex in the city. The rest of the city is liberated," he said late on Saturday.
Whether this is true or not remains to be seen
The Telegraph’s reports are even starker, although one cannot be sure how much is rumour and how much is fact.
According to the Telegraph
Gaddafi has made use of foreign mercenaries tanks and helicopter gunships to put down demonstrations. It states that fighting has also broken out in the cities of Al-Bayda, Ajdabiya, Zawiya, and Darnah (These seem mainly to be in the Eastern part of the country, close to Benghazi),
Protestors in Ajdabiya even claimed that it was now a "a Free City" after the HQ of Gaddafi's Revolutionary Committee was burned down on Friday, along with 14 other buildings.
Whether much of this is also true remains to be seen
One thing that is certain – Gaddafi is in some trouble and is being utterly brutal in crushing dissent (even by the standards of the region).
Will he fall? I certainly hope so but I have no idea how easily hope can turn to reality.