Battle for Tripoli rages on, 1,000 feared dead | world | Hindustan Times
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Battle for Tripoli rages on, 1,000 feared dead

world Updated: Feb 23, 2011 23:52 IST

On the eerily quiet streets of Tripoli, as the rain of Monday night gave way to sunshine on Tuesday morning, the macabre aftermath of Gaddafi’s forces’ air and ground attacks lay strewn on squares and curbsides for all to see.

The death toll of Libya’s uprising is now believed well over the original 300 figure.

The international community sought to isolate Gaddafi’s regime even as it struggled to evacuate foreign nationals from Libya. Italy’s foreign minister, Franco Frattini, said: “We believe that the estimates [of the death toll] of about 1,000 are credible.”

Residents described bullet-ridden corpses slumped in streets of residential areas and the roads around Green Square.

This was the remains of the “bloodbath”, one said. Relatives of the missing wanted to retrieve the dead for burial but locals said they were afraid to venture out to pick up the bodies.

Death squads of foreign mercenaries were patrolling streets and shooting at people who ventured out, according to several witnesses. “These are Gaddafi’s death squads,” said a resident of a Tripoli neighbourhood.

Another resident described traces of gunfire that had left pockmarks on the walls of buildings in Fashloum. There were makeshift barricades set up by locals to stop vehicles carrying mercenaries and Gaddafi’s elite guard from entering residential streets. Witnesses in Tripoli told Human Rights Watch that Libyan forces had fired “randomly” at protesters in the capital on Monday and Tuesday.

A resident said people were talking and exchanging information in preparation for another night of defiant protests.