Government Security Forces Open Fire on Protesters in Libya

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Muammar Qaddafi. Photo: MAHMUD TURKIA/AFP/Getty Images

Moammar Gadhafi's forces fired on mourners leaving a funeral for protesters today in Benghazi, Libya's second-largest city and the center of populist protests. The government forces killed at least 33 people, according to CNN, and wounded scores more as the regime tries to quell calls for an end to Gadhafi's 42-year reign. Most of the casualties died as a result of gunshot wounds. Hovering helicopters also reportedly fired into the crowds. The country remains largely off limits to foreign journalists and has been periodically cut off from the Internet over the past couple of weeks.

“It is too late for dialogue now,” said a Benghazi resident who has taken part in the demonstrations. “Too much blood has been shed. The more brutal the crackdown will be, the more determined the protesters will become. We don’t trust the regime anymore,” he said.

The crackdown in Libya has been the bloodiest of the recent government actions, drawing criticism from the United States and European allies. Before Saturday's violence, Human Rights Watch estimated at least 84 people had been killed in Libya since the protests began. The New York Times puts Libya's death toll at 104 now.

Medical officials: At least 33 killed in escalating Libyan protests [CNN]
Cycle of Suppression Rises in Libya and Elsewhere [NYT]
Libya: Snipers shoot mourners, killing 15 [AP via Google]