x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Revolt in Libya: the timeline

The seven days that have seen rebellion erupt in Libya.

February 15-16 Police in Libya's second city, Benghazi, use force to disperse a sit-in protesting against the government. Protesters demand the release of a lawyer representing the families of prisoners gunned down in a Tripoli prison in 1996 when more than 1,000 people were killed. At least two protesters reported killed by security forces in Al Baida, near Benghazi.

February 17 Eight reported killed in clashes between demonstrators and security forces, six in Benghazi and two in Al-Baida, and calls go out on Facebook to turn the day into "A Day of Rage" against Muammar Qaddafi's regime. At Zenten, several people arrested and a police station and another public building torched.

February 18 The death toll is estimated to have passed 40. Clashes reported in the east, notably Benghazi, where a radio station was torched. The "Islamic Emirate of Barqa" hangs two policemen trying to disperse the crowd. Facebook blocked in Tripoli as internet connections are severely disrupted.

February 19 The death toll passes 80, according to Human Rights Watch. Clashes spread to Misrati, 200 km east of Tripoli.

February 20 Human Rights Watch says at least 173 killed while a hospital official tells Al Jazeera 200 died in protests. Authorities announce the arrest of dozens of Arab nationals from a "network" they say aims to destabilise Libya and say they foiled an attempt by saboteurs to set fire to oil wells. Witnesses in Benghazi say Libyan security forces backed by "African mercenaries" have been shooting at crowds "without discrimination". Protesters sack the headquarters of state television in Tripoli overnight and set government buildings on fire. Libya's envoy to the Arab League says he quit to "join the revolution".

February 21 Human Rights Watch says the death toll climbed to at least 233. Saif al Islam, Colonel Qaddafi's son, warns that Libya faces civil war and "rivers of blood". Gunfire is heard in the capital for the first time since protests began. Tripoli's ambassador to Delhi says he quit and Al Jazeera quotes a diplomat in Beijing saying he too quit and that Qaddafi may have left the country. About 500 Libyans storm and loot a South Korean construction site near Tripoli.

The United States strongly condemns the use of force after "credible reports" of hundreds of casualties. Britain says it summoned Libya's ambassador to London to protest the deadly crackdown. Portugal begins evacuating EU citizens from Libya as countries worldwide warn citizens against travel to Libya. Oil firms BP and Statoil also evacuate staff and Italy's industrial giant Finmeccanica repatriates its employees. Brent oil prices soars above $105 per barrel, striking a fresh two-year peak. Dozens of Libyans and Egyptians protest outside Cairo's Arab League headquarters as the head of the pan-Arab body, Amr Mussa, calls for end to Libya violence.

* Agence France-Presse