Libya unrest continues, with 84 protesters claimed dead

Human rights group claims 84 protesters have been shot dead as protests in Libya continue to flare.

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RABAT // Anti-government protests continued for a fifth consecutive day in Libya yesterday.

Security forces have shot dead at least 84 protesters around the country in recent days, Human Rights Watch said, quoting eyewitnesses and hospital officials.

Libyan special forces stormed protesters camped out since Thursday in front of the courthouse in Benghazi, Libya's main commercial city after the capital Tripoli, according to protesters quoted by the Associated Press.

Witnesses identified the force attacking protesters in Benghazi and other cities as the Khamis Brigade, an elite unit commanded by Mr Qaddafi's son, Khamis, which is said to be the country's most potent fighting force, the agency said.

Hours before the attacks yesterday morning, authorities shut down internet access in Libya, according to wire service reports.

The mounting unrest is perhaps the worst faced by the country in decades, but the exact scale of the violence has been difficult to gauge and reports hard to verify.

Foreign media are concentrated in the capital, Tripoli, and Libyan state-owned media have largely avoided reporting on the unrest.