TOBRUK, Libya — Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets in Libya’s capital, Tripoli, on Friday in an ever more deadly battle for control of the country, as loyalists of dictator Moammar Gadhafi fired on opponents and grabbed hostages off the streets.
“The military, they are going in the small streets in between the houses and opened the fire, guns, and (they caught) some live people and took them,” said Zakariya Naas, 38, who found himself in the middle of the gunfire. “I saw by my own eyes, more than seven young guys” taken hostage at gunpoint, he said.
Government militiamen opened fire “in front of our face,” Naas said in a telephone interview. He said he watched 15, maybe 20, bodies drop. In the absence of ambulance service, protesters were trying to commandeer people’s cars to get the injured to hospitals. But with crowds in the streets, roads closed and hospitals overwhelmed, they’re largely helpless.
As evening fell, he said, “We have to jump from house to house because we cannot walk in the street now.”
There also were reports that Gadhafi loyalists were hiding in ambulances to catch protesters off guard.