The violent unrest in Libya continues to grow. The military, under the authoritarian leadership of Moammar Gadhafi, is cracking down and inflicting deadly violence on anti-government protesters.
According to witnesses, helicopter gunships have fired on demonstrators, and other military aircraft have launched strikes against positions in Tripoli. Security forces have cordoned off the Fashloom area of Tripoli and are shooting anyone who moves on the streets, said Mohammed Abdallah, spokesman for the National Front for the Salvation of Libya opposition group.
Elsewhere in the country, the eastern city of Benghazi, Libya's second largest city, has fallen to demonstrators. So far, the violence has left nearly 300 people dead, according to Human Rights Watch.
In a written statement, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, "The world is watching the situation in Libya with alarm. We join the international community in strongly condemning the violence in Libya. Our thoughts and prayers are with those whose lives have been lost, and with their loved ones."
Many within Moammar Gadhafi's own government are jumping ship, including Libya's ambassador to Washington, Ali Aujali, who announced on ABC News he had stepped down. "Tripoli is burning" and he no longer wanted to serve a "dictatorship," he said. Libya's deputy ambassador to the United Nations, Ibrahim Dabbashi, also spoke against the Gaddafi regime: "We ask the international community to take the necessary steps to help the Libyan people and to protect the Libyan people from genocide it is now facing."
The unrest sweeping through Libya is a sign that after four decades in power, Gadhafi has lost the support of key clans and loyalists, and has increasingly relied on brutal forms of repression to stay in power. "Gadhafi's biggest mistake was that he built his whole regime on pure fear," said Omar Amer, a member of the Libyan Youth Movement, a protest group that spreads its message through Facebook.
Clearly, the people of Libya are tired of living under an oppressive regime. "The government of Libya," said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, "has a responsibility to respect the universal rights of the people, including the right to free expression and assembly. Now is the time to stop this unacceptable bloodshed. We are working urgently with friends and partners around the world to convey this message to the Libyan government."