Thursday, February 24, 2011

Libyans Flee As Gadhafi's Hold Over Country Weakens

The scope of Moammar Gadhafi's control in Libya was whittled away Wednesday as major cities and towns closer to the capital fell to the rebellion against his rule. In Libya's east, now all but broken away, the opposition vowed to "liberate" Tripoli, where the Libyan leader is holed up with a force of militiamen roaming the streets. And in Washington, President Obama said the U.S. was looking at "a full range of options" to deal with the crisis.

In a further sign of Gadhafi's faltering hold, two air force pilots — one from the leader's own tribe — parachuted out of their warplane and let it crash into the deserts of eastern Libya, rather than follow orders to bomb a opposition-held city.

The opposition reportedly seized control of Misurata, 125 miles east of the capital Tripoli, after days of fighting. Witnesses said people were honking their horns and raising flags representing the monarchy overthrown by Gadhafi more than 40 years ago.

Misurata would be the first major city in western Libya to fall to anti-government forces, which claim — with the help of defecting security forces — to have taken control of nearly the entire eastern half of Libya's 1,000-mile Mediterranean coast, including several oil-producing areas.

Faraj al-Misrati, a local doctor in Misurata, said six residents had been killed and 200 wounded since Jan. 18, when protesters attacked offices and buildings affiliated with Gadhafi's regime


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