A Libyan hospital official says snipers have killed at least one person and injured a dozen more after they opened fire on mourners at a mass funeral for 35 protesters who had demonstrated to demand the ouster of Moammar Gaddafi.
Saturday’s shootings occurred in the city of Benghazi, which has been a focal point of five days of unrest and where government forces wiped out a protest encampment earlier in the day. The hospital official, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal, said snipers were firing from the top of the security headquarters in the city.
Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch said on Saturday that Libyan security forces have killed more than 80 people over three days of protests, after Tripoli pledged to crush opposition.
“Security forces are firing on Libyan citizens and killing scores simply because they’re demanding change and accountability,” said the New York-based HRW, citing telephone interviews with local hospital staff and witnesses.
It said thousands of demonstrators had poured out onto the streets in Benghazi and other eastern cities on Friday, a day after clashes in which 46 people were killed.
“Hospital sources told Human Rights Watch that security forces killed 35 people in Benghazi on February 18, almost all with live ammunition,” raising the tally to more than 80.
Libya’s attorney general, Abdelrahman al-Abbar, has ordered an inquiry into the violence, an official in Tripoli said on Saturday, on condition of anonymity.
In Benghazi, a flashpoint of opposition to Libyan leader Moamer Gaddafi, demonstrators on Friday set fire to the headquarters of a local radio station, witnesses and a security source said.
According to a toll compiled by AFP from local sources, at least 41 people have been killed since demonstrations first erupted on Tuesday. At least 24 were gunned down in Benghazi and Al-Baida on a “day of anger” on Thursday, according to HRW.
On Friday, US President Barack Obama condemned the use of violence against peaceful protesters in Libya, Bahrain and Yemen, while Britain, France and the European Union urged Libyan authorities to exercise restraint.