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Monday, February 28, 2011

2011 Libyan uprising

2011 Libyan Uprising
Part of 2010–11 Middle East and North Africa protests
Libyan Uprising.svg
  Cities under pro-Gaddafi control
  Cities under anti-Gaddafi control
  Ongoing fighting/Unclear situation
Date15 February 2011 – ongoing
Libya Anti-Gaddafi forces
  • National Libyan Council
  • NCLO
  • Defected Libyan Armed Forces
  • Defected Libyan police
  • Defected tribes
Libya Government of Muammar Gaddafi
  • Part of the Libyan Armed Forces[2]
  • Part of the Libyan police
  • Libyan Loyalists
  • Foreign mercenaries
Unknown50,000+ (before defections)
Casualties and losses
600+ protesters killed,
152 rebel soldiers killed
111 soldiers killed (by 20 Feb.)
10 soldiers killed (28 Feb.)
Unknown number of police and mercenaries killed
1,000–3,000 killed overall,
5,000+ injured

The 2011 Libyan uprising began as a series of protests and confrontations occurring in the North African state of Libya against the government and its leader Muammar Gaddafi. The social unrest began on 15 February 2011 and has since become a widespread uprising that continues to the present. Inspiration for the unrest is attributed to the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, connecting it with the wider 2010–11 Middle East and North Africa protests. According to Richard Engel, NBC News Chief Foreign Correspondent, who entered Libya and had reached the city of Tobruk on 22 February, "the protest movement is no longer a protest movement, it's a war. It's open revolt." On 22 February, The Economist described the events as an "uprising that is trying to reclaim Libya from the world's longest-ruling autocrat." Gaddafi blamed the uprising on al-Qaeda and "drugged kids".
Protests centred on Libya's two largest cities, the capital of Tripoli in the west and Benghazi in the east, and spread to other cities. On 18 February, demonstrators took control over most of Benghazi, with some support from police and defecting military units. The government reacted by sending elite troops and mercenaries, which were resisted by Benghazi's inhabitants and insurrectionist members of the military. By 20 February, more than 200 people had been killed in Benghazi. Protests in Tripoli have centred on Green Square. On 21 February, Libyan Air Force aircraft bombed civilian protesters in Tripoli, drawing international condemnation. The New York Times reported that "the crackdown in Libya has proven the bloodiest of the recent government actions."
Several Libyan officials have stepped down over the course of the protests. As of 27 February, most of Libya is reported to be under the control of the Libyan opposition and not the government of Muammar Gaddafi. Gaddafi remains in control of Tripoli, Sirt, Ghadames and Sabha. In opposition controlled area, several new media have emerged. An opposition-controlled newspaper called Libya has appeared in Benghazi, as well as opposition-controlled radio stations.
Most nations have strongly condemned the Libyan government of Gaddafi for their use of violence against protesters that has killed hundreds of Libyan people. The United States has imposed sanctions on Gaddafi. The United Nations Security Council has passed a resolution freezing the assets of Gaddafi and 10 members of his inner circle. The resolution also imposed a travel ban and referred Libya to the International Criminal Court for investigation. However some state leaders in Latin America have expressed support for Gaddafi's government for which they were criticized.


Muammar Gaddafi has ruled Libya as Brotherly Leader and Guide of The Revolution since overthrowing the monarchy in 1969.Following the retirement of Fidel Castro in 2008 and the death of Omar Bongo in 2009, Gaddafi is the world's extant longest-ruling non-royal head of state. WikiLeaks' disclosure of confidential U.S. diplomatic cables has revealed U.S. diplomats there even speaking of Gaddafi's "mastery of tactical maneuvering". While placing relatives and loyal members of his tribe in central military and government positions, he has skillfully marginalized supporters and rivals, thus maintaining a delicate balance of powers, stability and economic developments. This extends even to his own children, as he changes affections to avoid the rise of a clear successor and rival.
Petroleum revenues contribute up to 58% of Libya's GDP, leading to a resource curse. Governments with "resource curse" revenue have a lower need for taxes from other industries and consequently are less willing to develop their middle class. To calm down opposition, such governments can use the income from natural resources to offer services to the population, or to specific regime supporters. The government of Libya can utilize these techniques by using the national oil resources. Libya's oil wealth was spread over a relatively small population of six million, with 21% general unemployment, the highest in the region, according to the latest census figures.
Muammar Gaddafi's government has had more economic progress than other Arab countries. Libya's purchasing power parity (PPP) GDP per capita in 2010 was U.S. $14,878; its human development index in 2010 was 0.755; and its literacy rate in 2009 was 87%. These numbers were lower in Egypt and Tunisia. Indeed, Libyan citizens are considered to be well educated and to have a high standard of living. Its corruption perception index in 2010 was 2.2, which was worse than that of Egypt and Tunisia, two neighboring countries who faced uprising before Libya. This specific situation creates a wider contrast between good education, high demand for democracy, and the government's practices (perceived corruption, political system, supply of democracy).

Abu Salim Massacre
A significant portion of the population of Libya consists of youths aged 15 or under.
Abu Salim Prison is a high security prison in Tripoli which human rights activists and other observers often describe as "notorious". Amnesty International has called for an independent inquiry into deaths that occurred there in 1996, an incident which Amnesty International and other news media refer to as the Abu Salim prison massacre. Human Rights Watch believes that 1,270 prisoners were killed, and calls it a "site of egregious human rights violations."
On 24 January 2010, Libya blocked access to YouTube after it featured videos of demonstrations in the Libyan city of Benghazi by families of detainees who were killed in Abu Salim prison in 1996, and videos of family members of Gaddafi at parties. The blocking was criticized by Human Rights Watch.

Early developments
Between 13 and 16 January, upset at delays in the building of housing units and over political corruption, protesters in Darnah, Benghazi, Bani Walid and other cities broke into and occupied housing that the government was building. By 27 January, the government had responded to the housing unrest with a U.S. $24 billion investment fund to provide housing and development.

The former Libyan flag used by the Kingdom of Libya. It, or modified versions of it,
have been used by many protesters as an opposition flag.
In late January, Jamal al-Hajji, a writer, political commentator and accountant, "called on the internet for demonstrations to be held in support of greater freedoms in Libya" inspired by the Tunisian and Egyptian uprisings. He was arrested on 1 February by plain-clothes police officers, and charged on 3 February with injuring someone with his car. Amnesty International claimed that because al-Hajji had previously been imprisoned for his non-violent political opinions, the real reason for the present arrest appeared to be his call for demonstrations.
In early February, Gaddafi had met with "political activists, journalists, and media figures" and "warned" them that they would be "held responsible" if they participated "in any way in disturbing the peace or creating chaos in Libya".

Timeline of events

Main article: Timeline of 2011 Libyan uprising

15–22 February
Opposition protests outside the White House, Washington, D.C. on 19 February
In the evening of 15 February approximately 200 people began demonstrating in front of the police headquarters in Benghazi following the arrest of human rights activist Fathi Terbil. They were joined by others later who totaled between 500 to 600 protesters. The protest was broken up violently by police, causing as many as 40 injuries among the protesters. Similar protests and conflicts with police continued throughout the country through 19 February. The Libyan government began hiring African mercenaries, mostly from Chad, to support its own forces. It was reported that “They were paid for 5,000 (Dinars) and the latest model cars just to get rid of demonstrators,” according to inside sources.
The conflict continued to escalate; on 19 February witnesses in Libya reported helicopters firing into crowds of anti-government protesters. On 20 February the United States Department of State, through the American Embassy, issued a travel warning to U.S. citizens due to the continuing unrest in the country. On 21 February in Benghazi, protesters took control of the streets, and looted weapons from the main security headquarters. Demonstrators also lowered the Libyan flag from above the main courthouse and replaced it with the flag of the country's old monarchy. Libyan Air Force warplanes and attack helicopters launched airstrikes on protesters, reportedly targeting a funeral procession and a group of protesters trying to reach a military base. Two senior mutineering air force pilots flew their Dassault Mirage F1 fighter jets to Malta and requested political asylum after defying orders to bomb protesters.
On 22 February Gaddafi made a brief appearance on state television in which he said he had been speaking to the youth in Green Square. He also said: "I am in Tripoli and not in Venezuela. Do not believe the (news) channels belonging to stray dogs." Eyewitnesses reported that thousands of African mercenaries were flown into Tripoli to put down the uprising. In a second speech within 24 hours, believed by commentators to be made from his family compound in the Bab al-Azizia military barracks in southern Tripoli, Gaddafi blamed foreign powers and hallucinogens being forced on the protesters for the unrest. Gaddafi vowed to fight his opponents "until the last drop of his blood had been spilt" rather than step down, describing anti-regime protesters as "rats" and "mercenaries" working for foreign nations and corporate agendas. By the nighttime, the Arab League suspended the Libyan delegation from meetings until the Libyan people were safe.

23–28 February
A cartogram of control by district on the morning of 28 February. Red districts
are under anti-Gaddafi control, green pro-Gaddafi, and black unclear.

A girl in Benghazi holding a paper: "Tribes of Libya are one group" on February 23

Demonstrators inside al Fadeel battalion compound, al Berka, Benghazi

A government revolutionary committee office after it was torched by demonstrators, in Benghazi's downtown.
By the end of the day on 23 February, headlines in online news services were reporting a range of themes underlining the precarious state of the regime. Former justice minister Mustafa Abud Al-Jeleil alleged that Gaddafi personally ordered the 1988 Lockerbie bombing, resignations and "defections" of close allies, the loss of Benghazi, the second largest city in Libya, reported to be "alive with celebration" and other cities including Tobruk and Misurata reportedly fallin with some believing that government had retained control of "just a few pockets"

Around midnight, some reports began to emerge describing the situation as civil war or revolution, with Gaddafi trying to ensure control over the capital and his political base Tripoli.
On 24 February protesters assumed complete control of Tobruk, where soldiers and residents celebrated by waving the former Libyan flag used between 1951 and 1969, firing guns into the air and honking horns. Army units in Tobruk and throughout eastern Libya sided with protesters, with some soldiers and officers participating in demonstrations. Commanders pledged to defend the "liberated territory" with their lives after Gaddafi threatened to take it back by force. Two airmen bailed out of their jet, which crashed into the desert, after defying orders to bomb Tobruk. In the collapse of central authority, residents formed public defence committees for security, and opened welfare organizations to ensure that residents had enough to eat. At newly established security checkpoints, demonstrators handed out bottled water and juice to passing motorists.
On 25 February Gaddafi’s youngest son, Saif al-Arab al-Gaddafi, was claimed to have joined the protesters in Benghazi and to comment that Muammar Gaddafi would probably commit suicide or flee to Latin America if the protests succeeded. For the first time in days, thousands took to the streets of Tripoli to protest, with protester and civilian death tolls rising.Colonel Gaddafi appeared at 18h55 (local time) in Green Square in Tripoli, with a microphone shouting to the crowd of Gaddafi loyalists "Sing, dance and be ready, we will fight those who are against us."
On 26 February, there were unconfirmed reports that helicopter-borne mercenaries fighting for Gaddafi fired on protesters attending a funeral in the western city of Misrata. On the same day, former justice minister Mustafa Mohamed Abud Al Jeleil led the creation of an interim government claiming control of the country, even though it can only exert control of cooperative areas of Libya in rebellion against Gaddafi. Although it is unclear as to the extent of the interim government's recognition and authority both within and outside Libya, the Government of the United States took the opportunity to call publicly for Gaddafi to step down, marking an escalation of its rhetoric against his regime.
On 27 February, Al Jazeera and Reuters reported that Ali Suleiman Aujali, Libya's ambassador to the United States, had declared his support for the interim government in Benghazi. Al Zawiyah, just 30 miles (48 km) from Tripoli, was taken by the protesters. Britain revoked the diplomatic immunity of Gaddafi after the UN agreed to a range of sanctions against Libya amid the growing unrest. Gaddafi gave an interview to a Serbian TV station, RTV Pink, calling the Security Council resolution "invalid in accordance with the United Nations Charter" and that the resolution was based on the news reports rather than on actual state in Libya. He vowed to stay in Libya blaming the "foreigners and Al-Qaeda" for the unrest, saying that the protests began when "the gangs of drugged young men attacked regular army forces". Late on 27 February, the Royal Navy's HMS Cumberland docked at Benghazi in the east to pick up British citizens still stranded in the port city. The same day Gaddafi's trusted nurse Galyna Kolotnytska arrived back in Ukraine.
On 28 February, Gaddafi gave an interview in which he claimed there was no unrest in Libya. "All my people love me," Gaddafi told journalists from the United States, United Kingdom, and other countries. Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said the interview indicated Gaddafi is "delusional" and "unfit" to lead Libya. The New York Times reported U.S. military assets in the Mediterranean and Red Seas were being repositioned to facilitate possible military intervention in Libya, with top U.S. State Department officials suggesting a no-fly zone could be imposed to prevent Gaddafi from flying in mercenaries or using aircraft to attack opposition forces or civilians, although the Financial Times reported all the Libyan Air Force's warplanes appear to have been captured, disabled, or destroyed, leaving Gaddafi with only attack helicopters as air assets. British Prime Minister David Cameron suggested the U.K. would seek international cooperation to enforce a no-fly zone, which the Italian government indicated it may offer its military bases to abet. Though the no-fly zone proposal attracted the support of the Australian government, the foreign ministers of Italy and France suggested the option required further study and their Canadian counterpart said he was skeptical such a plan would be enacted. In Libya itself, Gaddafi appointed foreign intelligence chief Bouzaid Dordah to act as an envoy to the National Libyan Council in Benghazi, although officials in Tripoli suggested Gaddafi and Dordah intend for negotiations to center on the opposition standing down. "If all attempts and efforts for dialogue ... are exhausted, a very well guided force will be used in accordance with international rules," warned Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Kaim. Gaddafi's forces also attacked rebels in Misurata and Zawiyah and reportedly commenced an airstrike against a defected military base near Ajdabiya. Reports indicated the attacks on Misurata and Zawiyah were repulsed with minimal anti-Gaddafi casualties.

1 March
On 1 March, Australian Minister for Defence Stephen Smith confirmed that his government was considering military options against Gaddafi, saying that international intervention to enforce a no-fly zone was probable. Smith asserted that "no one is expecting" Gaddafi to leave power voluntarily. Al Jazeera reported that Misurata was once again under attack, this time from a combined armor and air assault. According to a witness quoted by the Qatar-based news agency, Gaddafi's forces are using heavy weapons against protesters and rebels in the city, while the anti-Gaddafi forces are fighting back with small arms. Abdul Fatah Younis, Gaddafi's former interior minister and the leader of a growing rebel force, told Al Jazeera that if Gaddafi could not be dislodged from Tripoli, he would welcome foreign intervention in the form of targeted airstrikes, though he said a land invasion was unwanted and offered the use of Libyan military airbases only in case of emergency to foreign aircraft.

Establishment of the National Libyan Council

The National Libyan Council (Arabic: المجلس الوطني الانتقالي) was a body established by opposition forces on February 27th in an effort to consolidate the the anti-Gaddafi forces. The main objectives of the group do not include forming an interim government, but instead to coordinate resistance efforts between the different towns held in rebel control, and to give a political "face" to the opposition to present to the world.


Residents of Benghazi told Al Jazeera that at least 200 people had died, while the New York-based Human Rights Watch put the countrywide death toll at a "conservative" 104 on 19 February, while an update on 22 February stated that there were at least 62 casualties. They also suggested the actual deaths in Benghazi had probably passed 100 on 20 February. Other sources list the number of deaths to be 220 in Benghazi alone.On 22 February, the International Coalition Against War Criminals gave an estimate that 519 people had died, 3,980 were wounded and over 1,500 were missing.
Human Rights Watch have estimated that at least 233 people had been killed by 22 February.
On 23 February, Italy's Minister of Foreign Affairs Franco Frattini stated that according to his information 1,000 people had died so far.
On 25 February, Navi Pillay, the High Commissioner for Human Rights of the United Nations, said that reports indicated that "thousands may have been killed or injured".
Among the security forces there had been more than 325 dead, including mercenaries and rebel soldiers. On 18 February, two policemen were hanged by protesters in Benghazi. Also, on the same day, 50 African mercenaries, mostly from Chad, were executed by the protesters in al-Baida. Some of them were killed when protestors burned down the police station in which they locked them up and at least 15 were lynched in front of the courthouse in al-Baida. The bodies of some of them were put on display and caught on video. By 23 February, the government confirmed that 111 soldiers had been killed. On 24 February, the IFHR said that 130 soldiers had been executed in Benghazi and al-Baida, after they mutinied and sided with the protesters. On 26 February, another 22 rebel soldiers were captured and executed at Sirte after trying to infiltrate into government-held territory. On 28 February, 10 soldiers were killed in street fighting with rebel forces in Zawiyah.


Fleeing the violence of Tripoli by road, as many as 4,000 people have been crossing the Libya-Tunisia border daily. Among those escaping the violence are foreign nationals including Egyptians, Tunisians, and Turks, as well as Libyans. During the uprising many countries evacuated its citizens. The United Kingdom and India used naval vessels to assist in the evacuation of its citizens and other nationals.
On 25 February 500 passengers, mostly Americans, sailed into Malta after a rough eight-hour journey from Tripoli and 2 day wait for the seas to calm down.
A number of international oil companies have decided to withdraw their employees from Libya to ensure their safety, including Gazprom, Shell, Suncor, Pertamina and BP. Other companies that decided to evacuate their employees include Siemens and Russian Railways.
On the evening of 25 February a joint British and German operation consisting of two British military transport planes with British Special Forces on board and two German military transport planes evacuated 22 Germans and about 100 other Europeans, mostly British oil workers from the airport at Nafurah to Crete. 
On 27 February two Royal Air Force C-130 Hercules aircraft again with British Special Forces evacuated approximately 100 foreign nationals, mainly oil workers, to Malta from the desert south of Bengahzi, one of which was shot at and suffered some damage, but no one was injured.
On the 28th of February evacuations from Libya continued. Two vessels docked in Valletta Waterfront, Floriana, Malta bringing 3,200 workers, mostly Chinese.

Domestic responses

Resignations and defections
Further information: List of officials who protested or resigned during the 2011 Libyan protests

A map showing the ethnic and part of the tribal composition of Libya
Several officials resigned from their positions after 20 February in large part due to protests against the army's "excessive use of force," including justice minister Mustafa Mohamed Abud Al Jeleil as well as Interior Minister and Major General, Abdul Fatah Younis whereas Oil Minister Shukri Ghanem was reported to have fled the country. Citing "grave violations of human rights", Gaddafi's cousin and close aid, Ahmad Qadhaf al-Dam, announced his defection from the government when he arrived in Egypt on 24 February.

Several members of the diplomatic corps also resigned. Amongst these were the ambassadors to the Arab League, Bangladesh, the People's Republic of China, the European Union and Belgium, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Poland, Sweden and the United States. The deputy ambassador to the United Nations Ibrahim Omar Al Dabashi did not resign but distanced himself from the Libyan government's actions. The ambassador to the United States Ali Aujali together with the embassy staff also distanced himself from the government, "condemned" the violence and urged the international community "to stop the killings." The ambassador to the United Kingdom denied reports that he had resigned.
Two Libyan Air Force pilots and a naval vessel fled to Malta, reportedly claiming to have refused orders to bomb protesters in Benghazi.
Islamic leaders and clerics in Libya urged all Muslims to rebel against Gaddafi. The Warfalla, Tuareg and Magarha tribes have announced their support of the protesters. The Zuwayya tribe, based in eastern Libya, have threatened to cut off oil exports from fields in their part of the country if Libyan security forces continued attacking demonstrators.
Youssef Sawani, a senior aide to Muammer Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, resigned from his post "to express dismay against violence".
On 28 February, Muammar Gaddafi has reportedly appointed the head of Libya's foreign intelligence service to speak to the leadership of the anti-government protesters in the east of the country.

Libyan royal pretenders

Claimant Muhammad as-Senussi sent his condolences "for the heroes who have laid down their lives, killed by the brutal forces of Gaddafi" and called on the international community "to halt all support for the dictator with immediate effect." Muhammad said that the protesters would be "victorious in the end" and calls for international support to end the violence. On 24 February 2011 Muhammad gave an interview to Al Jazeera English where he called upon the international community to help remove Gaddafi from power and stop the ongoing "massacre". Muhammad has dismissed talk of a civil war saying "The Libyan people and the tribes have proven they are united". Questioned about what shape a new government could take, and whether the 1951 royal constitution could be revived Muhammad said that such questions are "premature and are issues that are to be decided by the Libyan people," adding that for now the priority is to stop the "killing of innocent people." On whether he desires to return to Libya he says "The Senussi family considers itself as in the service of the Libyan people." When asked about reestablishing the monarchy he has stated "he is a servant to Libyan people and they decide what they want".
In an interview with Adnkronos, Idris al-Senussi, a pretender to the Libyan throne, announced he was ready to return to the country once change had been initiated. On 21 February 2011 Idris made an appearance on Piers Morgan Tonight to discuss the uprising. On 24 February his brother Hashem called on Gaddafi “to have mercy” on the demonstrators, just as he did with members of the former Royal Family in 1969 when he allowed them to leave the country unharmed after the coup that overthrew the monarchy.

International journalists were banned by the Libyan authorities from reporting from Libya except by invitation of the Gaddafi government, and Lebanese officials have complained that Libya jammed the broadcasts of Lebanese television reporting on the crackdown. Additionally, reports appear that the Internet is widely disrupted.
Gaddafi on 13 February warned against the use of Facebook, and security organisations arrested several prominent internet activists and bloggers. The novelist Idris al-Mesmari was arrested hours after giving an interview with Al Jazeera about the police reaction to protests in Benghazi on 15 February. Rolling Internet censorship occurred mostly but not entirely at night; all Internet traffic was abruptly lost on February 18. Furthermore, some satellite phones were jammed. Former aides have purportedly advised Gaddafi to resign via Twitter.

International reactions

Main article: International reactions to the 2011 Libyan uprising
Most states and supranational bodies have condemned Libya's bombing of civilian targets within the country. Nicaragua's Daniel Ortega telephoned Gaddafi "to express his solidarity". Peru cut off diplomatic relations with Libya over the bombings.
Many states issued either travel advisories or attempted evacuations. Some evacuations were successful in either going to Malta or via land borders to Egypt or Tunisia. Other attempts were hindered by tarmac damage in Benghazi and refusals to land in Tripoli. There were also several solidarity protests in other countries that were mostly composed of Libyan expatriates. Financial markets around the world had adverse reactions to the instability with oil prices rising to a two-and-a-half year high.
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen announced on 25 February 2011 that he had called an emergency meeting to discuss Libya. Rasmussen said that NATO's priority would be humanitarian aid and the evacuation of foreign citizens. On the same day, U.S. President Barack Obama announced that his government is freezing the assets of Gaddafi and his family members because the violence and unrest in Libya poses an "unusual and extraordinary threat" to America's national security and foreign policy.
On 26 February, the United Nations Security Council voted unanimously in a resolution to impose strict sanctions, including targeted travel bans, against Gaddafi's government, as well as to refer Gadhafi and other members of his regime to the International Criminal Court for investigation into allegations of brutality against civilians, which could constitute crimes against humanity in violation of international law.
On 28 February, British Prime Minister David Cameron said his country wouldn't rule out the use of "military assets" in confronting Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. Mr. Cameron also told Parliament that he has asked the Ministry of Defence to work with "our allies" on plans for a military no-fly zone. "We do not in any way rule out the use of military assets," Mr. Cameron said. "We must not tolerate this regime using military force against its own people."

Mercenary activity

There are numerous reports that Libya's regime has attempted to defeat the rebels in Benghazi amongst other places, by using foreign mercenaries. These mostly centre on "French speaking" fighters apparently from neighbouring African countries such as Chad and Niger. However some have urged caution, saying that Libya has a significant black population who could be mistaken for mercenaries but are actually serving in the regular army. Also, many Chadian soldiers who fought for Gaddafi in past conflicts with Chad were given Libyan citizenship.
On 18 February it was alleged that "armed forces with military members from Chad" were operating in Benghazi, having been "paid for 5,000 (Dinars) and the latest car models just to get rid of demonstrators." Twelve people were killed on the Giuliana Bridge in Benghazi when forces opened fire. Fifty mercenaries were killed after protesters captured them, locked them up in a prison, and then burned it down.
On 19 February several Chadian mercenaries were captured in eastern Libya. On 21 February a lawyer working in Benghazi said that a local ‘security committee’ formed by native civilians on the 21st took control of the city had arrested 36 “mercenaries” from both the Chad, Niger and Sudan who were hired by Gaddafi’s body guards or ‘Praetorian Guard’ to fight in the city.
On 22 February there were reports of mercenaries from Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Niger, Mali, Sudan, Tunisia, Morocco and possibly even Asia and Eastern Europe fighting in Al Bayda. A 21-year-old university student called Saddam claimed mercenaries had killed 150 people in the previous two days in the city of Al Bayda.
On 23 February there was a report that Gaddafi had deployed French-speaking mercenaries from nearby countries such as Mali, Niger and Chad. Hired killers from Chad and Niger were reported to be in Bengazi and other eastern cities on the 23rd.
On 24 February the Aruba School in the coastal town of Shehat became the prison for almost 200 suspected pro-Gaddafi mercenaries from countries such as Niger and Chad. They were reported to be part of Libya's "Khamees' battalion", the well-equipped 32nd brigade led by Khamis Gaddafi. It was confirmed on the 24th by Col Gaddafi's former Chief of Protocol Nouri Al Misrahi in an interview with the Al Jazeera that Malian, Nigerien, Chadian and Kenyan mercenaries are among foreign soldiers helping the besieged Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi fight off an uprising.
On 25 February, speculation that members of the Zimbabwe National Army were covertly fighting in Libya to help prop up cornered Colonel Muammar Gaddafi grew as Zimbabwe’s Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa avoided giving a straight answer to a question posed in Parliament about it. On the same day, the Foreign Ministry of Chad denied allegations that mercenaries were fighting for Gaddafi, although he admitted it was possible that individuals had joined such groups.


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