CAIRO (AP) _ Libyan protesters seeking to oust longtime leader Moammar Gadhafi defied a crackdown and took to the streets in five cities Thursday on what activists have dubbed a ``day of rage,'' amid reports at least 20 demonstrators have been killed in clashes with pro-government groups.
New York-based Human Rights Watch said Libyan internal security forces also have arrested at least 14 people. Hundreds of pro-government demonstrators also rallied in the capital, Tripoli, blocking traffic in some areas, witnesses said.
An opposition website and an anti-Gadhafi activist said unrest broke out during marches in four Libyan cities _ Beyida, Benghazi, Zentan, Rijban and Darnah. Organizers were using social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter to call for nationwide demonstrations.
``Today the Libyans broke the barrier or fear, it is a new dawn,'' said Faiz Jibril, an opposition leader in exile.
Opposition website Libya Al-Youm said four protesters were slain by snipers from the Internal Security Forces in the eastern city of Beyida, which had protests Wednesday and Thursday. It's not clear when the protesters were killed. The website also said there was a demonstration Thursday in Benghazi, Libya's second-largest city, and that security forces had shot and killed six people with live ammunition.
Switzerland-based Libyan activist Fathi al-Warfali said 11 protesters were killed in Beyida on Wednesday night, and scores were wounded. He said the government dispatched army commandos to quell the uprising.
Libya Al-Youm said that protesters set out Thursday after the funeral for those killed a day earlier toward the State Security building, chanting ``Free Libya, Gadhafi get out!''
Mohammed Ali Abdellah, deputy leader of the exiled National Front for the Salvation of Libya, said that hospitals in Beyida were complaining of a shortage in medical supplies, and that the government has refused to provide them to treat an increasing number of protesters.
Abdellah quoted hospital officials in the town as saying that about 70 people have been admitted since Wednesday night, about half of them critically injured by gunshot wounds.
Gadhafi's government has moved quickly to try to stop Libyans from joining the wave of uprisings in the Middle East that have ousted the leaders of Egypt and Tunisia. It has proposed the doubling of government employees' salaries and released 110 suspected Islamic militants who oppose him _ tactics similar to those adopted by other Arab regimes facing recent mass protests.
An autocrat who has ruled for more than 40 years, Gadhafi also has been meeting with tribal leaders to solicit their support. State television reported Tuesday that Gadhafi spoke with representatives of the Ben Ali tribe, one of Libya's biggest clans and one that has branches into neighboring Egypt.
Tripoli residents said they were having trouble accessing the Internet, although it was not clear whether access had been blocked or the bandwidth reduced. At the height of the protests in Egypt last month, the government shut down the Internet for five days in a bid to curb the protesters' ability to organize.
The official news agency JANA said Thursday's pro-government rallies were intended to express ``eternal unity with the brother leader of the revolution,'' as Gadhafi is known.
Witnesses in the capital said many government supporters were raising Libyan flags from their cars and chanting slogans in favor of Gadhafi. They said it was otherwise business as usual in the capital and stores remained open.
But protests already have turned violent.
Al-Warfali, head of the Libyan Committee for Truth and Justice, said two more people were killed in another city, Zentan, on Thursday while one protester was killed in Rijban, a town about 75 miles (120 kilometers) southwest of Tripoli, where power was shut down Wednesday night and remained off Thursday.
A video provided by al-Warfali of the scene in Zentan showed marchers chanting and holding a banner that read ``Down with Gadhafi. Down with the regime.''
He said protesters on Thursday in the coastal city of Darnah were chanting ``the people want the ouster of the regime'' _ a popular slogan from protests in Tunisia and Egypt _ when thugs and police attacked them from a vegetable market.
Another video showed protests by lawyers in Benghazi on Thursday demanding political and economic reform while a third depicted a demonstration in Shahat, a small town southwest of Benghazi.
The Libyan government maintains tight control over the media and the reports couldn't be independently confirmed.
Libya's Muslim Brotherhood, an opposition group in that country as it has been in Egypt, denounced the crackdown.
In a statement Wednesday night, it accused ``the security forces and members of the revolutionary committees of using live ammunition in dispersing the protesters.'' The group demanded that ``the Libyan regime rein in its (security) apparatus.''
리비아 반정부 시위 유혈 충돌, '20여명 사망'
리비아에서 17일 벌어진 반정부 시위에서 유혈 시위대와 보안군 사이에 유혈 충돌이 발생 최소 19명이 숨지는 등 민주화 시위 과정의 희생자 수가 늘어나고 있다고 외신들이 보도했다.
뉴욕의 Human Rights Watch에 따르면 이날 시위로 14명이 체포되었고 수도인 트리폴리에서도 민주화를 요구하는 시위가 벌어졌다.
이와관련 연합뉴스는 야권 웹사이트인 리비아 알-윰과 알-마나라 등은 리비아 제2의 도시인 벵가지에 서 시위대와 보안군이 충돌해 지금까지 6명이 숨졌다고 주장했다고 보도했다.
이번 시위는 이 2006년에 벵가지에서 열린 이슬람주의자들의 집회에서 14명이 숨진 사건을 기념해 `분노의 날' 행사를 열자고 제안해 일어난 것인데 리비아의 한 페이스북 그룹이 주관하였다.
야권 웹사이트는 또 리비아 동부 지역의 도시 알-바이다에서는 지난 16일 보안 군과 혁명위원회 소속 민병대가 평화적인 시위를 벌이던 청년들을 강제로 해산하면 서 실탄을 쏘았고, 이로 인해 최소 4명이 숨지고 여러 명이 부상했다고 전했다고 연합은 보도했다..
제네바에서 활동하는 단체인 `인권연대'는 알-바이다 지역의 목격자들을 인용, 건물 지붕 위에서 저격수들이 13명을 사살했고, 수십 명을 다치게 했다고 주장했다.
인터넷에는 수십 명의 젊은 리비아인들이 알-바이다에서 "국민은 체제의 붕괴 를 원한다"는 구호를 외치는 모습과 불이 붙은 한 건물을 촬영한 영상이 떠돌고 있 다.
1969년 무혈 쿠데타로 정권을 장악한 무아마르 카다피가 42년째 집권하고 있는 리비아에서는 지난 15일 밤에도 벵가지에서 시민 수백 명이 반정부 시위를 벌이다가 경찰과 충돌한 바 있다.