Death Toll Rises in Libyan Crackdown

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Despite the rising death toll, anti-government protesters numbering in the hundreds gathered in front of a court building in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi Sunday morning.

Muammar Ghadhafi's heavily armed forces, reinforced by mercenaries, killed at least 200 anti-government protesters over the past few days.

Helicopter gunships, tanks and snipers backed up the troops, who were armed with heavy artiliary, assault rifles and knives. One Muslim cleric told Reuters he saw a a tank crush two people in a car.  

Over the weekend, security forces opened fire on mourners leaving a funeral in Benghazi for demonstrators killed in the crackdown, killing at least 15.

"Many of the dead and injured are relatives of doctors here. They are crying and I keep telling them to please stand up and help us," The Associated Press quoted one hospital official as saying.

"I am crying," a doctor told AP. "Why is the world not listening?"

According to the report, the government cut off telephone land lines and Internet access across the country in an apparent attempt to prevent communication via social networking sites. Authorities may also want to limit video footage of the crackdown on the Internet.

Eyewitnesses reported seeing mercenaries among the forces, one saying they had likely been brought in from African countries. Click here to view video coverage of the protests.

Some pro-government demonstrators joined the fracas, waving posters of the Libyan dictator.

One resident of Benghazi told al-Jazeera the crackdown could wipe out the city. Another pleaded for help with the "massacre."

Meanwhile in Yemen's capital Sanaa, riot police brandishing automatic rifles opened fire on thousands of demonstrators, killing at least one and injuring at least five others, according to news agencies.

It appears that neither Ghadhafi nor Yemen's Ali Abdullah Saleh is planning to abdicate to anti-government protesters like the leaders of Tunisia and Egypt. 

Meanwhile in the small island nation of Bahrain, protesters returned to Manama's Pearl Square on Sunday after troops withdrew following two days of a bloody onslaught by the military and police.

Some believe the ruling Sunni dynasty may be signaling its desire to end the confrontation for reasons not yet known.


AP contributed to this report.

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