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Libya: Death Toll Rises to 6,000, US Mulls Intervention

This post is part of our special coverage Libya Uprising 2011.

Human rights groups have put the latest death toll in the Libyan crisis to over 6000, as pro-Gaddafi forces continue to pound opposition-held cities with air strikes.

Much of the fighting appears to be in the city of Brega, although reports indicate that anti-Gaddafi revolutionaries have successfully repelled the offensive and are pushing towards the capital, Tripoli.

Men at the refugee camp "Shusha" on the Libyan-Tunisian border. Image by Amine LANDOULSI, copyright Demotix (03/03/2011).

Men at the refugee camp "Shusha" on the Libyan-Tunisian border. Image by Amine LANDOULSI, copyright Demotix (03/03/2011).

Evidence that Gaddafi is perpetrating gross atrocities is mounting, with images and news of human rights violations continuing to seep through social media. This, for example, is an extremely graphic image of protesters shot dead by anti-aircraft weaponry currently being circulated on social media.

Thousands of refugees continue to pour over the border into Tunisia, where temporary camps have been set up by the United Nations Refugee Agency UNHCR to shelter fleeing foreigners, mostly Egyptians.

Below is raw footage of fighting taking place on the outskirts of Brega. Pro-Gaddafi fighter jets can also be heard hovering above the city.

Bloggers in Libya continue to post updates, amidst growing fears for their safety.

From Tripoli, From the Rock urges the West to lift sanctions that are cutting off urgently needed funds for ordinary Libyans to live:

If you thought that the past two weeks were painful, the future does not look less tragic, because with this mass freezing of  Libyan assets, I'm afraid that the Central Bank will not be able to cover any withdrawing of funds from Libyan citizens, which would result in an economic crisis in the power of purchase. Salaries may not be accessible if there is no liquidity and that would create mass fear.

If there is anyone listening please unfreeze those assets!

Khadija Teri describes life in Tripoli as pro-Gaddafi forces prepare for the looming battle:

We drove around the city to see what was happening. Women holding shopping bags hurried about with worried looks on their faces. Men wearing green scarves around their necks were busy putting up green flags. Pick-up trucks with oil-company stickers slapped on the sides but without licence plates were parked at roundabouts, doors and windows open to reveal uniformed men with machine guns inside. A huge crowd of people were at the port waiting to board a ship that would evacuate them to safety. Anti-aircraft guns were  placed at various places along the coast road. The weather was beautiful but no one was enjoying the day. The whole atmosphere was weird, it felt as if you were being watched or followed. It felt as though any second something horrible could happen – it felt unsafe.

I'm getting tired of staying at home. The kids want to go back to school again. Today I said to a friend: ‘I want things to be normal again.’ and she laughed and replied ‘Things have never been normal in Libya!’

My Enchanting Sereeb writes with a sense of urgency as Gaddafi continues to perpetrate atrocities:

The cities of Misrata and Az-Zawia still under siege and medical supplies are running low; yesterday Gaddafi’s mercenaries dropped bombs on Al-Brega, one of the biggest oil fields in Libya.

I just spoke to my brother in Benghazi and he told me: “there is no going back; all we want is for gaddafi and his sons to leave Libya and stop this bloodshed. No negations, no reconciliation with this criminal regime. We are not purporting violence but we are all willing to die for our freedom. We had enough of this cruel regime; it terrorized us over 42 years, enough is enough. We want to live in peace and build our country. There is no civil war in Libya and there won’t be one; the war is between the Libyan people and gaddafi and his mercenaries. We either live with dignity or die. THERE IS NO GOING BACK.

My life is at a standstill at the moment; I’m sick, I’m traumatized but I’m sure of one thing: I am too willing to die for our freedom.

One crazy person is going to set a whole country ablaze and kill as many people as he can and the world is watching, analysing, worrying about gas prices and the Oscars! No wonder I’ve been sick for days. I need to join my family in Libya.

Libyan tweeps are also keeping the world informed as the violence unfolds:

@FreeLibyan87 #Libyans remember the blood of your martyrs we have to finish what they started. It is our duty now to fulfil their dream of a FREE #LIBYA
@ShababLibya The liberated parts of #Libya namely Benghazi are cleaner then they have ever been in 42 years as the youth are taking care of everything
@Libya_United Air-crafts on sky of Tripoli Today! http://twitpic.com/45o5zs http://twitpic.com/45o6ho #Tripoli #Feb17
@ShababLibya BREAKING: What sounds like Bombs in Benghazi now, explosions taking place, not clear what is the source but can be heard very close #Libya

Meanwhile, talk of US military intervention in Libya has received little enthusiasm from neither Libyan nor American tweeps.

@Tripolitanian Come on #Libya! The US or UN or anyone else won't do it for you, YOU must bring success to this revolution! You can do it.

@Tripolitanian With the US involvement in current #Libyan affairs, I worry that #Libya will turn into the next #Iraq

@Tripolitanian The #Libyans would greatly favour an Arab League's imposition of a No-Fly Zone over #NATO's. #Libya

@libya_Horra Hates how western media has adopted calling us #rebels.. We revolutionaries, people that said enough.. We deserve to be FREE!! #libya #feb17

@TrablesVoice last plan for Gaddafi is to tell all Libyans the US are coming to invade Libya for OIL, he will do what ever it takes for them to come.

@Tripolitanian Looks like the Chinese have made themselves clear on #Libya situation, they want w/e is economically best for them, ie #Gaddafi

Western tweeps:

@jane4today We in America toss the words”hero” & “freedom” aound a lot. U all have shown us the real meanings #Libya #Tripoli #Feb17 God be with u all

@chlai88 #libya is more #iraq than bosnia. premature western military intervention becomes a western revolution rather libyan's own

@wwwwwhatt they (US) had the capabilities to end it (Gaddafi) yesterday, 10 years, 20 years ago, wouldn't agree then or now…to put it another way, i would not want a serial killer to rescue me from a crazed mugger

@nirrosen No fly zone over Libya is a great idea, but maybe put one over Afghanistan too so the US stops killing Afghan children?

@nist Gates is wrong: No-fly (if limited to East Libya) does not require strikes against air defenses in Tripoli. US should act now. #eastlibya

@robertastrupp Libya: Have to do what is BEST 4 US & Israel-It is a fool's errand to imagine the Muslims of Libya will even thank us. Remember Lockerbee !

Past experiences of Bosnia and Rwanda have come back to haunt the international community as it faces a major test in averting a humanitarian catastrophe in Libya.

Whilst many are indeed skeptical of American and British intervention in a strategic Arab state, given historic antagonism, the world must decide whether allowing thousands to perish is a necessary sacrifice to free Libya from a ruthless dictator.

This post is part of our special coverage Libya Uprising 2011.

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