Libya mourns after deadly crackdown

Human Rights Watch said 35 people were killed in the city late on Friday, adding to dozens who had already died in a fierce crackdown on three days of protests inspired by uprisings in neighbouring Egypt and Tunisia. Friday’s deaths in Benghazi happened when security forces opened fire on people protesting after funeral processions for victims of earlier violence, the group said.

The New York-based watchdog said the killings on Friday took to 84 its estimate for the total death toll after three days of protests focused on the restive region around Benghazi, 1,000 km east of Tripoli.

Asked by Qatar-based Al Jazeera television how many people were to be buried on Saturday, Benghazi cleric Abellah al-Warfali said he had a list of 16 people, most with bullet wounds to the head and chest.

“I saw with my own eyes a tank crushing two people in a car,” he said. “They didn’t do any harm to anyone.”  The private Quryna newspaper, which is based in Benghazi and has been linked to one of Gaddafi’s sons, said 24 people were killed in Benghazi on Friday. It said security forces opened fire to stop protesters attacking the police headquarters and a military detachment where weapons were stored. “The guards were forced to use bullets,” the paper said.

The government has released no casualty figures, nor made any official comment on the violence. A security source said that there were still clashes going on in the region between Benghazi and the town of Al Bayda, about 200 km away, where local people said dozens have also been killed by security forces in the past 72 hours.

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