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Libya prepares for 'day of rage'

Protesters in Libya are planning to take to the streets for a "day of rage," inspired by uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, but rights groups warned of a crackdown by security forces.

world Updated: Feb 18, 2011 00:55 IST

Protesters in Libya are planning to take to the streets for a "day of rage," inspired by uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, but rights groups warned of a crackdown by security forces.

In a country where public dissent is rare, plans for the protests were being circulated by anonymous activists on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, and it was not clear if the demonstrations would materialise.

Libya has been tightly controlled for over 40 years by Muammar Gaddafi - who is now Africa's longest-serving leader - but the oil exporter has felt the ripples from the overthrow of long-standing leaders in its neighbourhood.

Though some Libyans complain about unemployment, inequality and limits on political freedoms, analysts say an Egypt-style revolt is unlikely because the government can use oil revenues to smooth over most social problems.

Witnesses and local media reported that several hundred people clashed with police and Gaddafi supporters on Tuesday night in the city of Benghazi.

State media reported there were pro-Gaddafi protests too across the country, with people chanting "We are a generation built by Muammar and anyone who opposes it will be destroyed!"

People posting messages on opposition website Libya Our Home, which is based outside the country, urged Libyans to protest and drew parallels with the Egyptian uprising. A Facebook page dedicated to the planned protest urged followers to "make it a day of rage in Libya".