West, al-Qaida blamed for unrest

Updated: 2011-03-01 07:22

(China Daily)

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West, al-Qaida blamed for unrest
A local volunteer escorts Chinese evacuees to a ship on Monday. Fu Jing / China Daily 

TRIPOLI, Libya - Western powers and al-Qaida terrorists are behind the unrest in Libya, which may result in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, the spokesman for the Libyan government said on Monday.

"There are no massacres, no bombardment, no reckless violence to the innocent people," Mousar Ibrahim said, who also admitted that hundreds of people, from both sides, were killed in the turmoil.

The North African country is facing its largest mass protests in decades. They have lasted for nearly two weeks, with protesters demanding an end to leader Muammar Gadhafi's 42-year rule.

Tripoli is still under control of Gadhafi, however, the anti- government protesters have seized some parts of Zawiya city, some 40 km to the west of the capital.

But the spokesman said that anti-government protesters are the "minority" and the government still has the whole area of Zawiya. "We could wipe out them with army, but we did not. The government is not blooded," he said.

Mousar Ibrahim accused Western powers of attempting to change the regime for "oil wealth".

The protests were handled peacefully in which people demanded freedom of expression, higher salaries and better housing, but al-Qaida terrorists "hijacked" the peace activity and led Libya to chaos, Mousar said.

Commenting on UN sanctions on Libya, the spokesman said that the international community should come to Libya to find the truth. "How could they decide this just according media reports. Is there any evidence?"

Gadhafi's son Saif al-Islam on Thursday invited international media to Libya to report "the truth" in the country. The Libyan authority has accused some Arab media of "distorting the information".

The country is in trouble, but most of the people thought the progress should be achieved gradually, Mousar said. "We are trying to save lives, otherwise hundreds of thousands of people will be killed," he added.

Food shortage looms

Residents of Libya's capital say prices for basic foods are skyrocketing and long lines have formed at bakeries for rationed bread as Gadhafi loyals clamp down in Tripoli.

One resident told The Associated Press that the price of rice, a main staple, has gone up 500 percent amid the crisis, reaching the equivalent of $40 for a five kilogram bag. Bakeries are limited to selling five loafs of bread per family.

She says most Tripoli residents are staying in their homes as pro-Gadhafi security forces man checkpoints around the city of 2 million.

The Libyan regime has been battling protesters demanding Gadhafi's ouster, with the country's east now under the control of rebels backed by troops who have defected.



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