Word is trickling out of Libya, despite state media’s attempts to hide it, that the protests in Libya are gaining momentum:
Messages and videos posted on social media sites Thursday signaled that anti-government protests in Libya were gathering steam in several cities, with some turning violent on a “Day of Rage.”
There were reports of at least 10 deaths, but those reports could not be independently confirmed.
A text message sent out on mobile phones challenged younger Libyans to take to the streets, activists and bloggers said.
CNN does not have journalists in Libya and was unable to confirm the extent of the demonstrations unfolding there.
Libyan websites had posted calls for a “Day of Rage” on Wednesday, the anniversary of a 2006 demonstration in which security protests killed at least 12 protesters.
State-run television, however, showed demonstrations in support of Gadhafi, who has ruled Libya for more than four decades.
A source in Tripoli who is close to senior members of the government told CNN that several events Thursday showed support for Gadhafi, including a gathering of several hundred people in the capital and others riding brandishing Libyan flags from their cars.
The source had said Wednesday that he was not aware of further anti-government protests following a demonstration in Benghazi Tuesday night.
But Ahmed Elgasir, a researcher at the Geneva, Switzerland-based Libyan Human Rights Solidarity, said that serious clashes between protesters and security forces occurred Thursday in Benghazi.
Another clue as to how far Gadhafi is going to keep events under control:
Novelist Idris al-Mismari told the al-Jazeera network that plainclothes security officers used tear gas, batons and hot water on the crowds. During his live interview, the line went dead. Witnesses told Human Rights Watch that he was arrested then.
Cracking down didn’t exactly work in Egypt, so we’ll see how the Libyan protesters respond.
Update: Here are some bits of information from Radio Netherlands:
Videos circulating on the Internet showed dozens of young Libyans apparently gathered on Wednesday night in Al-Baida chanting, “The people want to bring down the regime,” and a building which had been set on fire.
One Facebook group urging the Day of Anger for Thursday had more than 22,000 followers.
I wonder if Libya will find an internet kill switch like Egypt did. Precious good it did, eh? Here’s more:
Traffic was lighter than usual and the security presence on main roads slightly boosted, after text messages went out on Libya’s mobile telephone network on Wednesday warning against street protests.
The messages, circulated from “the youth of Libya,” warned against crossing “four red lines: Moamer Kadhafi, territorial integrity, Islam and internal security.”
“We will confront anyone in any square or avenue of our beloved country,” the messages read.
According to Al-Jazeera (I know…) there are reports on Twitter that the regime is warning they will use live ammunition on demonstrators. I would link to it, but it’s easy enough to look up under Al-J’s Africa section for those interested.