Libyan protesters risk ‘suicide’ by army hands
Gaddafi confronts the most serious challenge to his 42-year rule by unleashing army on unarmed demonstrators
by Peter Beaumont and Martin Chulov in Bahrain

Colonel Muammar Gaddafi is confronting the most serious challenge to his 42-year rule as leader of Libya by unleashing his army on unarmed protesters.

Unlike the rulers of neighbouring Egypt, Gaddafi has refused to countenance the politics of disobedience, despite growing international condemnation, and the death toll of demonstrators nearing 100.

The pro-government Al-Zahf al-Akhdar newspaper warned that the government would “violently and thunderously respond” to the protests, and said those opposing the regime risked “suicide”.

William Hague, the UK’s foreign secretary, condemned the violence as “unacceptable and horrifying”, even as the Libyan regime’s special forces, backed by African mercenaries, launched a dawn attack on a protest camp in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi.

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