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Terrorism & Security

'Day of Rage' brings Libya protest deaths to at least 24, says human rights group

'Day of Rage' protests in Libya yesterday have increased pressure on Muammar Qaddafi, the Arab world's longest-ruling dictator, with funerals today potentially serving as a catalyst for more violence.

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The situation was considerably calmer by Friday morning. But more protests are expected in Libya today as demonstrators bury the dead from clashes during this week's protests, and some observers worry that the funerals could be a catalyst for further violence.

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Al Jazeera reports that the government’s strict control over the news media has made it difficult to determine the scale of the violence. Using unverified tallies based on social network postings, the Arab broadcast network estimates that as many as 50 people may have been killed.

Although the majority of protests have taken place outside the capital city, the Daily Telegraph managed to secure a rare video of demonstrators in Tripoli setting trash cans on fire.

Meanwhile, there are several reports that pro-government rallies have taken place in the capital city, with demonstrators chanting slogans in favor of Mr. Qaddafi. As antigovernment protests took place elsewhere, CBS reports that Qaddafi toured Tripoli in an attempt to garner more support from government loyalists.

Human rights groups have condemned Qaddafi’s attempt to rally support and hang onto power as indicative as the harsh tactics he has used to remain in power for more than 40 years.

“The security forces’ vicious attacks on peaceful demonstrators lay bare the reality of Muammar Qadhafi's brutality when faced with any internal dissent,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch in an article by RIA Novosti. “Libyans should not have to risk their lives to make a stand for their rights as human beings.”

The authorities should cease the use of lethal force unless absolutely necessary to protect lives and open an independent investigation into the lethal shootings, Human Rights Watch said.

"It is remarkable that Qadhafi is still copying the very same tactics that failed Hosni Mubarak so completely just across the border," Whitson said. "Using security forces and armed thugs to deny people the right to express their opposition to the government increasingly looks destined to fail."

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