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LIBYA: African mercenaries imported by Kadafi to quash protests, Al Arabiya reports

February 19, 2011 | 12:38 pm

Embattled Libyan leader Muammar Kadafi has flown in hundreds of mercenaries from sub-Saharan Africa to quash protests threatening his 41-year-old regime, the Al Arabiya network reported Saturday, quoting witnesses to the arriving foreign recruits.

Protesters in Benghazi, Libya's second-largest city and an anti-Kadafi stronghold, captured some of the imported gunmen, the news agency said. The captured French-speaking mercenaries admitted to having been recruited by Kadafi's son, Khamis, to confront the unrest threatening to topple one of the region's longest-reigning regimes, Al Arabiya reported.

The agency said witnesses reported seeing four planes carrying mercenaries land in Benina International Airport near Benghazi. The British-based website jeel.libya.net reported earlier that several planes carrying foreign recruits in Libyan army uniforms landed at a military airport near Tripoli.

The crackdown on anti-Kadafi demonstrators has resulted in at least 84 deaths, the New York-based Human Rights Watch reported from sources in the region.

-- Carol J. Williams

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