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At least 12 killed, dozens injured in Libya protests

RIA Novosti

19:52 17/02/2011 MOSCOW, February 17 (RIA Novosti) - At least 12 people were killed on Thursday and dozens injured in anti-government protests in Libya's northeastern city of Al-Baida and eastern city of Benghazi.

Inspired by popular uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, Libyan protesters also called for a "Day of Rage" on Thursday in a bid to challenge the 41-year rule of Colonel Muammar Qadhafi, who has been accused of human rights abuses.

Citing opposition websites and NGOs, Al-Arabiya news agency reported that security forces and militia of the Revolutionary Committees opened fire on the peaceful, mostly young demonstrators in the city of Al-Baida, killing at least six people.

Human Rights Solidarity, a human rights group based in Geneva, said witnesses in Al-Baida reported that several snipers opened fire from the tops of buildings, killing at least 13 demonstrators.

France Press news agency reported that at least six people were killed and 38 injured in the country's second largest city of Benghazi, where protests began on Wednesday, when at least 15 people were injured.

A Facebook group calling for the "Day of Range" had 4,400 registered members on Monday, but the number more than doubled to some 10,000 following Wednesday clashes in Benghazi.

Qadhafi, who came to power on the back of a 1969 coup, is the longest-serving leader in both Africa and the Arab world.

The spark for the protest was believed to be the detention of human rights lawyer Fathi Terbil by the Libyan security forces. Terbil was reportedly later released.

Local media reports said pro-Gaddafi demonstrations were held on Wednesday in several cities across the country following the Benghazi protest.

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