Libyan security forces used tear gas to disperse protesters in the nation's capital Friday, and gunshots were heard amid the chaos, according to reporters at the scene.Pro Khadafi loyalists continue to fire upon opposition groups, and the body count continues rising.
As Friday prayers let out, the protesters began marching from mosques, calling for Gadhafi's ouster. Many streamed out of the Murad Agha mosque in the Tajoura district, chanting "the people want to bring the regime down."
The security forces fired at least five canisters of tear gas at the crowd of around 1,500 protesters in Tajoura. The crowd briefly scattered, but rejoined to continue their march, according to an Associated Press reporter at the scene.
Before the marches, pro-Gadhafi forces set up checkpoints in the neighborhood. Last week, similar protests were met by a brutal crackdown, when militiamen opened fire on demonstrators moments after they began their marches.
Anderson Cooper debunks Khadafi's nonsensical claims that the Libyan youth were being given hallucinogenic drugs by the US or al Qaeda to encourage an uprising against what Khadafi calls a popular regime.
Among the drugs claimed were involved is a pain killer whose primary side effects are drowsiness and constipation. That's not exactly the kind of drug one would expect rebel groups to be dispensing to encourage an uprising.
Khadafi is also fond of claiming that al Qaeda has no presence in Libya, but yet he and his flacks have repeatedly claimed that al Qaeda was behind the transportation and distribution of these drugs to coffee houses and other locations in the country to foment an uprising.
Meanwhile, President Obama has come out with his strongest statements to date on Libya, and essentially calls the Khadafi government illegitimate and authorized an airlift to assist those fleeing the country. He names Tunisia and Egypt as being particularly helpful in assisting those fleeing, even as those two countries are busy trying to formulate new governments after their own revolutions.
USAID teams have been sent to the Libyan border in Egypt and Tunisia to assist with the refugee problem.
Khadafi loyalists bombed yet another town in the hopes of staving off the rebel groups from taking still more territory.
The latest air strike, early Friday, targeted a military base on the edge of Ajdabiya, a strategic crossroads, rebels said.UPDATE:
There were no casualties or damage in the bombing, which came as hundreds of opposition volunteers rushed to defend their frontline in the nearby oil port of Brega.
At the same time, opposition forces also headed along the main coastal road out of Uqayla, a small village about 175 miles (280 kilometres) from the main rebel headquarters in Benghazi, Libya's second city.
An AFP reporter about five miles west of Uqayla saw about six pick-up trucks mounted with heavy machine guns heading still further west.
A patchwork coalition of rebels controls eastern Libya and some towns in the west following a revolt that started on February 15, but Kadhafi retains his grip on the capital Tripoli and parts of the west.
Kadhafi's son Seif Al-Islam told Britain's Sky News the air strikes were designed only to scare the rebels rather than cause damage, amid reports pilots reluctant to bomb their compatriots were deliberately missing their targets.
"This is the oil and gas hub of Libya," he said, vowing the regime would do all in its power to recapture Brega.
More reports of live ammunition being used to disrupt the protests by pro-Khadafi loyalists.