Moammar Gadhafi is using foreign mercenaries from Africa who don't speak Arabic, as a private army to protect his regime and they have shown no hesitancy to fire on civilian protesters, witnesses have said.
A doctor in Benghazi told ABC News several foreign mercenaries were captured by Libyan police who have sided with the protesters. The captives, the doctors said, can't speak English or Arabic and when confronted by locals they had a hard time communicating.
The mercenaries have quickly earned a reputation for brutality.
"They know one thing: to kill whose in front of them. Nothing else," said the doctor who was reached by phone, but asked to not be publicly identified. "They're killing people in cold blood."
The doctor said he didn't know which country the mercenaries were from, but said they were black, spoke French and were identified by wearing yellow hats.
"They have special forces bringing in from outside Libya," he said. "They bring from Africa some military forces, I don't know, some special army, put them in Benghazi and in Tripoli now."
Hafed al-Ghwell, a Libyan-American activist, said his sister who lives in Tripoli and reported similar scenes.
"They are African mercenaries, a least a big chunk of them," he said.
"Gadhafi, from all kinds of sources in the past, has been training them at various camps throughout Libya over the years and I think now he knows that the military and the security services as well as diplomats are condemning what's happening -- that they can't count on any Libyan to do his bidding for them," al-Ghwell added. "So he's using his own tribesmen and under them are these thugs who are basically in it for the money, not anything else."
A Libyan-American who is visiting Tripoli told ABC News he's hearing mercenaries are even barging into people's homes and residents don't feel safe.
"They are being flown in. We can see the cargo planes taking off I've seen them with my own eyes," he said. "Our money -- Libya's money -- is paying foreign troops to kill Libyan people. That is what's happening."
Though video reports from the country have been scarce, some videos have been posted on YouTube showing locals beating dark-skinned people they said were captured mercenaries and were blamed for shootings.
Even Libya's ambassador to India confirmed the reports, telling Reuters that African mercenaries are being used to crush protests.
"They are from Africa, and speak French and other languages," Ali al-Essawi told Reuters in an interview, adding that he was receiving information from sources within Libya. Some Libyan forces defected to the protesters because the troops "are Libyans and they cannot see foreigners killing Libyans so they moved beside the people," al-Essawi said.
Experts say that Gadhafi is so paranoid about his own military that he has purposely kept it weak so they won't turn on him.
Gadhafi has used foreign mercenaries in past.
"They used to use them in their war with Chad.... and during the Cold War they used Cuban pilots," said John P. Entelis, director of the Middle East Studies Program, Fordham University.
"They would take people from Niger and Chad to do some of the fighting because they couldn't always trust the Libyans that were in the army because they would come from different tribes and the tribes wouldn't necessarily be loyal to Gadhafi," Entelis said.