Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat- Libyan sources told Asharq al-Awsat that the Libyan leader, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, will not flee the country if the situation escalates, and that he intends to die on Libyan soil. Sources affiliated with the Gaddafi family spoke to Asharq al-Awsat via telephone, saying that the city of al-Bayda [east Libya] is witnessing riots and widespread violence, led by armed militias. [These groups] began their activities by storming a prison, releasing the inmates, and ended by surrounding an army battalion belonging to the younger son of the Libyan leader.
The sources said: “the militias are in control of al-Bayda and they are killing anyone who stands in their way, even if they are opponents of the regime”. They added that the militia groups had stormed a prison, released the inmates, and then conducted acts of violence against the people, as well as looting. The sources noted that such activities began after two militia members were killed trying to storm the internal security building, and set it on fire.
The sources highlighted that the military had lost control of the situation in the city, and had been forced to pull out. However, they went on to say: “The battalion belonging to Khamis [the younger son of Gaddafi], named “Legion 36″, is still trapped inside the city. They are at the mercy of the militia, whose members are killing them and mutilating their bodies”. The sources pointed out that the majority of soldiers in “Legion 36” are of “Tabu” origin, a dark-skinned tribe living in the Kufra governorate. When they entered al-Bayda the residents thought they were African mercenaries, recruited by the government to fight against them. Thus they [the militia] killed them and mutilated their bodies. The sources said: “Since day one, demonstrations in al-Bayda have not been peaceful, like they have been in other cities. From the first day the demonstrators burned police stations, national and internal security buildings, and centers affiliated to the Army. Even clinics and hospitals have not been spared from their attacks”. They added: “To those who want to ‘overthrow the regime’, as they say, why ruin the country? These people have no culture of protesting, unlike what was evident in Tunisia and Egypt”.
The sources went on to say: “Colonel Gaddafi still refuses to send Special Forces from the army to the city of al-Bayda, in order to end the prevailing violence there. Doing so would leave behind many victims, and this is the last thing Gaddafi wants”. They added that Gaddafi himself was not leading the demonstrations against the government, as some media outlets have portrayed, “but some of his supporters went to meet him at his headquarters and he came to greet them… that is all there is to it”.
The sources quoted Gaddafi’s reiteration that neither he nor his family will flee from the country: “We all intend to die on Libyan soil”. Asharq al-Awsat learned that all members of the Gaddafi family living outside the country, either due to study or work commitments, have been recalled home. Most of them were living in European countries, and they have been returning to Libya since last Thursday.
Opposition eye witnesses living in al-Bayda spoke to Asharq al-Awsat by telephone: “the situation in the city has become very difficult, insurgents are deployed everywhere. Those who object to the destructive acts being carried out are putting their lives, or their families lives, at risk…bodies are scattered in the streets. Three days ago, three soldiers from the army were hanged, and their bodies still remain on the streets”.
Meanwhile, Libyan forces fired machine-guns at mourners marching in a funeral for anti-government protesters in the eastern city of Benghazi Sunday, a day after commandos and foreign mercenaries loyal to Gaddafi pummeled demonstrators with assault rifles and other heavy weaponry.