Mourners at the funeral of Anwar Algadi who was killed by security forces in Tripoli. (Reuters)
Tripoli, Feb. 26 (AP): The Libyan regime passed out guns to civilian supporters, set up checkpoints today and sent armed patrols roving the terrorised capital to try to maintain control of Muammar Gaddafis stronghold and quash dissent as rebels consolidate control elsewhere in the North African nation.
Residents of its eastern Tajoura district spread concrete blocks, large rocks and even chopped-down palm trees as makeshift barricades to prevent the SUVs filled with young men wielding automatic weapons from entering their neighbourhood — a hotspot of previous protests.
With tensions running high in Tripoli, scores of people in the neighbourhood turned out at a funeral for a 44-year-old man killed in clashes with pro-regime forces. Anwar Algadi was killed yesterday, with the cause of death listed as a live bullet to the head, according to his brother, Mohammed.
Armed men in green armbands, along with uniformed security forces check those trying to enter the district, where graffiti that says Gaddafi, you Jew, Down to the dog, and Tajoura is free was scrawled on walls.
Outside the capital, rebels held a long swathe of about half of Libyas 1,600-km Mediterranean coastline where most of the population lives, and even captured a brigadier general and a soldier today as the Libyan army tried to retake an air base east of Tripoli. The state-run news agency also said the Opposition held an air defence commander and several other officers.
Yesterday, pro-Gaddafi militiamen — including snipers — fired on protesters trying to mount the first significant anti-government marches in days in Tripoli.
Gaddafi, speaking from the ramparts of a historic Tripoli fort, told supporters to prepare to defend the nation as he faced the biggest challenge to his 42-year rule.
At the suitable time, we will open the arms depot so all Libyans and tribes become armed, so that Libya becomes red with fire, Gadhafi said.
The international community toughened its response to the bloodshed, while Americans and other foreigners were evacuated from the chaos roiling the North African nation.
The UN Security Council began deliberations to consider an arms embargo against the Libyan government and a travel ban and asset freeze against Gaddafi. President Obama signed an executive order yesterday freezing assets held by Gaddafi and four of his children in the US.