In an interview, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the United States could not quickly enforce a no-fly zone over Libya -- a plea many protesters and dissenters have made -- and that Italy and France would be better poised for that.
At the Saloum border crossing on Libya's eastern border with Egypt, chaos erupted as a non-stop stream of Egyptians returned home to escape the violence.
The road leading to the border essentially turned into a parking lot and a line of white vans stretched out into the horizon as far as the eye could see. There were so many cars and people carrying everything from bags of clothes to TVs, doors and washing machines that everyone was stuck.
The Egyptians – mostly migrant workers coming from the second largest city of Benghazi – reported stories of widespread, brutal killings.
A father of six said he had seen fighter jets attacking people and criminals being released into the streets. "It's a war."
Another said he ran into gunmen on his way to the border and had to kiss their feet to pass.
One man told ABC News African mercenaries were everywhere.
"They are killing everyone they meet," he said. "Over there is a slaughterhouse. It's not a joke. It's a slaughterhouse. No one is in Benghazi now. Shooting is everywhere, all shots in the head and the chest."
On the western front with Libya, there was a slightly slower flow of people, with groups of 10 to 20 at a time crossing the border here in Ras Ajdir.
The Tunisian expatriates told ABC News they were leaving both because of the violence -- telling stories of gunfire in the night -- and because of fear that Gadhafi has stirred anger at foreigners in his country.
One worker from Az-Zawiyah in northwest Libya said all symbols of Gadhafi in that town, including pictures and signs, were set on fire. He said there was a lot of gunfire but it was mainly police firing in the air to regain control of the streets.