Politics & Policy

All Quiet in Tripoli

Disturbingly, though protesters appear to be winning in the East and generally outside of the Libyan capital, Qaddafi’s forces appear now to have gained a total victory in Tripoli: 

A state of terror has seized two working class neighborhoods here that just a week ago exploded in revolt, with residents reporting constant surveillance, heavily armed checkpoints and disappearances of those involved in last week’s protest.

While rebel fighters in the country’s east celebrated their defeat of an incursion on Wednesday by hundreds of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s loyalists in the strategic oil town of Brega — and fended off a number of airstrikes on Thursday in industrial areas and around the airport, one resident said — many people here in Tripoli were lying low in an effort to elude the secret police.

Several people in the neighborhoods, Feshloom and Tajura, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of the secret police, said militias loyal to Colonel Muammar el-Qaddafi are using photographs taken at last week’s protest to track down the young men involved. “They know that there are people who have energy and who are willing to die so they pick them up,” one resident said.

The resident showed reporters cell phone photographs taken at Tripoli Central Hospital of a large wound in the chest of his family member, Nagi Ali el-Nafishi, 56, and they pointed out the blood stain on the cement where he had been shot almost immediately after leaving Friday prayers at a mosque. A doctor who examined him said that the bullet had exploded his heart and lungs, causing him to die of lost blood within minutes.

Several people said at least four people in the neighborhood had been killed that day, including Hisham el-Trabelsi, 19, who they said was shot in the head, and Abdel Basit Ismail, 25, hit by random gunfire while she was calling to a family member in the protest. Neighbors in the Feshloom area report discovering the body near the Abu Slim prison of at least one man, Salem Bashir al-Osta, a 37-year-old teacher who disappeared at a protest last Sunday.

“I think now the people know that if they make any protest now they will be killed, so all the people in Tripoli are waiting for someone to help them from Benghazi,” the neighbor continued, referring to the city in eastern Libya that where the revolt first began and has established a headquarters.


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