Protests are once again surging in Libya, where the opposition has declared a “day of rage” against Moammar Gadhafi, the long-serving military dictator of the nation. Protesters are said to have stormed one of the nation’s prisons and freed a number of political prisoners.
But as is all too common in these growing protests across the region, the military has been using live ammunition in an attempt to crush the rising dissent. The death toll, according to human rights groups, is at least 24, and is likely to rise in the days and weeks ahead.
Gadhafi has been amongst Africa’s most colorful dictators, and has had a less amenable relationship with the US historically than most of the region’s other dictators. This is owing largely to his decision to nationalize the Libyan oil holdings of American investors when he seized control of the nation.
In recent years, however, Gadhafi has had a rapprochement with the US, with President Bush ending sanctions in 2004 and upgrading relations in 2006. He still has yet to repair his standing with human rights groups, however, and this weeks killings are likely to make this matter all the worse.