An increasingly gruesome picture began to emerge Saturday of the violent tactics used by the government of Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi to quell protesters in Tripoli, the Libyan capital, with several witnesses confirming that forces loyal to the government had been shooting people from ambulances and using anti-aircraft guns against crowds.
Witnesses to the violence in Tripoli, where a tense standoff held on Saturday, also said that the government had removed dead bodies as well as the wounded from hospitals in an effort to disguise the mounting death toll in the uprising sweeping Libya.
Gaddafi’s forces had put down demonstrators, who had taken to the streets after Friday prayers to mount their first major challenge to the government’s crackdown, with snipers from rooftops, buckshot, and tear gas, witnesses said.
Reports also said the embattled regime of Gaddafi is arming civilian supporters to set up checkpoints and roving patrols around the Libyan capital to control movement and quash dissent, residents said Saturday.
There were unconfirmed reports that an armed rebel force was approaching the city.