Uprisings reportedly quelled in Libya Sanctions may be taking their toll

October 25, 1993|By Los Angeles Times

CAIRO, Egypt -- Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi has violently quelled a series of uprisings within his own army and security forces that broke out in three areas of central Libya over a period of several days, according to diplomatic and opposition sources.

Sources opposed to Mr. Gadhafi said yesterday the uprisings reflected growing discontent within the army, and the public as well, over the deteriorating quality of life in Libya since international sanctions were imposed more than a year ago on the north African desert nation, one of the last radical holdouts in the Arab world.

One of the uprisings, led by disgruntled army leaders, sparked street fighting in the central industrial town of Misratah before it was put down by the Libyan air force's security battalions, sources said.

At least 260 people have been injured in the clashes since Oct. 11, many of them civilians wounded in air attacks launched against army barracks in central Libya, according to opposition leaders. About 600 have been arrested, said the opposition sources, whose reports could not be independently verified. Some reports said an unknown number of citizens were killed.

The Libyan government has denied that there has been any attempted coup.

"It is a bloody, bloody situation, and the question is how many lives will Libyans have to lose until Gadhafi is removed?" asked Mohammed Youssef Magariaf, secretary general of the London-based National Front for the Salvation of Libya.

"Unfortunately, it seems the only way by which we can get rid of Gadhafi is just force and more force. But I'm sure this will be the last aborted coup. The next one will bring the end of Gadhafi," Mr. Magariaf said.

Diplomats in the Libyan capital of Tripoli said security has been tightened around the airport, the port and the military barracks in which Mr. Gadhafi resides. But they said the capital is otherwise tranquil.

"All that we know is that there was an apparent military coup which started off in [Bani] Walid, and it was suppressed," said one Western envoy in Tripoli.

"Our information indicates that there was some violence involving some colonels who were close collaborators of Mr. Gadhafi and who were wounded, apparently. We have also had reports that there were explosions heard, but we haven't been able to get anyone on the spot."

Diplomatic sources said the uprising in Misratah was apparently timed to coincide with a planned visit of Mr. Gadhafi to the central Libyan port city, home of the nation's most important steel manufacturing plant.

The sanctions against Libya, ordered by the U.N. Security Council in April, 1992, include a military embargo and the blocking of all air travel to and from the country. The measures are intended to force Mr. Gadhafi's regime to hand over two suspects in the bombing of an American passenger jet over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1989 and comply with other measures renouncing international terrorism.

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