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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Libya’s Gadhafi Hunkers Down And Strikes Out

This image taken from amateur video obtained Thursday Feb. 24, 2011 and released by Libyan opposition groups, purportedly shows a crushed red car surrounded by a gesticulating and distressed crowd, as tanks roll in the distance releasing exhaust smoke between Feb 18-19, 2011 in Benghazi, Libya. (AP Photo via APTN)

This image taken from amateur video obtained Thursday Feb. 24, 2011 and released by Libyan opposition groups, purportedly shows a crushed red car surrounded by a gesticulating and distressed crowd, as tanks roll in the distance releasing exhaust smoke between Feb 18-19, 2011 in Benghazi, Libya. (AP Photo via APTN)

Army units and militiamen loyal to Moammar Gadhafi struck back against Libyans who have risen up in cities close to the capital Thursday, attacking a mosque where many were holding an anti-government sit-in and battling with others who had seized control of an airport. A doctor at the mosque said 10 people were killed.

The assaults aimed to push back a revolt that has moved closer to Gadhafi’s bastion in the capital, Tripoli. The uprising has already broken away nearly the eastern half of Libya and unraveled parts of Gadhafi’s regime.

As more of his top leaders defect, Gadhafi took to the airwaves, this time contending that al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden was behind the protests in Libya. Gadhafi told state TV that al-Qaida followers are giving young Libyans hallucinogenic pills in their coffee to dupe them into taking part in the “destruction and sabotage.”

He said young protesters are “trigger happy and they shoot especially when they are stoned with drugs.”

Guests

We speak to two Libyans: A 21-year-old woman in Tripoli, where Gadhafi has pledged to send forces from house to house to wipe out dissidents; and a 45-year-old businessman in Benghazi, where opposition forces are in control.

Middle East analyst Robert Powell, with the Economist Intelligence Unit. He says this is Gadhafi’s “bunker moment.”


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