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Colonel Gaddafi under pressure as Obama condemns Libya violence

The Libyan leader could speak on state TV again today with reports of opposition gaining towns and cities across the country.

Gaddafi and Obama in Italy in 2009
Gaddafi and Obama in Italy in 2009
Image: AP Photo/Michael Gottschalk, Pool

US PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA has said that the “outrageous” and “unacceptable” violence in Libya must stop as pressure mounts on embattled dictator Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.

In a statement made yesterday evening Obama strongly condemned the violence.

As many as 1,000 people may have died in clashes across the country, according to the Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini.

Gaddafi is battling to retain control of the oil rich North African country he has led for the past 41 years.

In a statement, Obama said:

The United States also strongly supports the universal rights of the Libyan people.

That includes the rights of peaceful assembly, free speech, and the ability of the Libyan people to determine their own destiny.

These are human rights.  They are not negotiable.

Human Rights Watch has called on Italy to press Colonel Gaddafi to halt violence against protesters and has said there may be as many as 62 people dead from forces firing “randomly” at protesters in Tripoli earlier this week.

This is just one of many reports where pro-Gaddafi forces are said to be firing on protesters in a bid to halt the uprising.

The opposition in Libya now control many of the eastern parts of the country including the second city of Benghazi.

Two towns in the west are also reported to have fallen, according to Reuters with the situation developing by the minute.

Foreign governments, including Ireland’s, are attempting to evacuate their citizens stranded in the country, many thousands are at Tripoli International Airport.

Reports on Libyan state TV say that Gadaffi is due to speak from the town of Zawiya shortly. It had been rumoured that this area had fallen to opposition forces.

Meanwhile, oil prices have risen to their highest level in nearly three years, now costing nearly $120 in response to the crisis, according to Reuters.

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Hugh O'Connell

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