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Efforts to evacuate Irish citizens from centre of Libyan protests

About 900 protesters have been brought into one hospital in Benghazi, mostly suffering from gunshot wounds. A total of 40 Irish nationals are known to be in the country – with six located near the centre of the protests.

Protestors waving Libyan flags gathered in front of the White House in Washington, Saturday, Feb. 19, 2011.
Protestors waving Libyan flags gathered in front of the White House in Washington, Saturday, Feb. 19, 2011.
Image: Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP/Press Association Images

EFFORTS ARE BEING made to evacuate six Irish citizens who are in the Libyan city of Benghazi – the centre of vicious clashes between anti-government protesters and the country’s military.

A total of 40 Irish citizens are known to be in Libya, with most located in near the capital, Tripoli, reports RTÉ.

Up to 104 people are now believed to have been killed in a fierce government crackdown against demonstrations, with witnesses claiming that protesters have been mown down by troops armed with machine guns and heavy machinery. Human Rights Watch said the death toll is conservative.

Foreign journalists are not being allowed into the country and internet services, such as Al-Jazeera Arabic and Facebook, have been blocked.

Some reports suggest that unarmed protesters were fired upon – possibly by snipers, reports the BBC. Other reports suggest demonstrators were throwing fire bombs.

One doctor told the BCC that 900 injured people had been brought to Benghazi’s Jala hospital, with the majority suffering from gunshot wounds. She added that medical staff had been so overwhelmed they had not yet had the chance to count the dead.

Colonel Gaddafi’s elite guard are being deployed and foreign mercenaries from sub-Saharan Africa are also reportedly being brought in to quell the protests.

There has been no signs of unrest reported in Tripoli, as yet.

Gaddafi is the longest-serving leader in the Arab world, having taken control of Libya in a 1969 coup.

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