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LIBYA: Amnesty International says at least a dozen protesters killed in unrest

February 17, 2011 |  5:13 pm


Amnesty International issued a statement Thursday citing unconfirmed reports that about a dozen protesters had been killed in clashes during the last two days in Libya.

Officials with the London-based human rights group urged Libyan authorities to "cease using excessive force to suppress anti-government protests."

"The Libyan authorities tried to smother this protest before it even got off the ground, but that, clearly, did not work. Now they are resorting to brutal means to punish and deter the protesters," said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International's director for the Middle East and North Africa.

"The police in Libya, as elsewhere, have a responsibility to ensure public safety but this does not extend to using lethal or excessive force against peaceful protesters," Smart said. "Even when protesters do use violence, the police must not use disproportionate or excessive force. They must use no more force than the circumstances require, and lethal fire should be seen as only the very last resort."

Protesters have posted new videos on YouTube of anti-government demonstrations Thursday in Benghazi and vowed to continue.

"Our demands are clear," one protester posted on Twitter. "We want to see a free united democratic fair Libya."

--  Molly Hennessy-Fiske