Libya: First Gunfire, Then Gadhafi Blows Kisses

United Nations council to investigate reports of mass killings.

ByABC News
February 25, 2011, 1:28 AM

Feb. 25, 2011— -- Libyan strongman Moamar Gadhafi blew kisses to a crowd of supporters in Tripoli today after his troops fired on demonstrators who had been chanting that Gadhafi must go.

The dictator appeared in Green Square, the city center, to proclaim, "I am here."

Although the past week has seen several bloody battles that have left anywhere from 300 to 1,000 dead, Gadhafi extorted the youth in the crowd, "Dance, sing, live your lives. Dance! Dance and Sing! Be happy! Ghadafi is here among his people."

He ended his speech by blowing kisses to the cheering crowd.

Earlier, however, gunfire crackled through neighborhoods in the capital as marchers streamed out of Friday mosques services chanting anti-Gadhafi slogans.

"There are all kind of bullets," said one protester near the Souq al-Jomaa, screaming in a telephone call to The Associated Press, with the rattle of shots audible in the background.

"The situation is chaotic in parts of Tripoli now," said another witness, who was among marchers in adjacent Algeria Square and said he saw militiamen firing in the air. Armed Gadhafi supporters were also speeding through some streets in vehicles, he said.

Gadhafi was concentrated troops in and around Tripoli intent on preventing his opponents from massing and for supporters from the liberated part of the country converging on the capital. Armed young men with green armbands to show their support of Gadhafi set up checkpoints on many streets, stopping cars and searching them, the Associated Press reported.Security cordons were set up at mosques and tanks and checkpoints lined the road to Tripoli's airport.

Despite Gadhafi's determination to hang on to power, more of his regime crumbled today. In Geneva, Libya's entire U.N. mission publicly resigned and the U.N.'s Human Rights Council gave the Libyans a standing ovation.

The Human Rights Council will convene a special session today to investigate reports of mass killings during the Libyan protests.

"The crackdown in Libya of peaceful demonstrations is escalating alarmingly with reported mass killings, arbitrary arrests, detention and torture of protestors," U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said.

The violence prompted White House to announce sanctions on Libya, although spokesman Jay Carney did not immediately detail what those sanctions would be. Carney said the Obama administration is working with European countries to impose additional sanctions on the Gadhafi regime.

More videos emerged of Gadhafi's forces firing on protesters from helicopter gunships and a fighter jet dropping bombs.

The situation was vastly different in the eastern half of Libya, which has mostly been taken over by opposition forces. Jubilant protesters told ABC News they will continue to fight, and there were huge turnouts for Friday prayers throughout the eastern part of the country.

"The end has come," one Libyan, who was in the middle of huge post-Friday prayer celebrations in what's called "Revolution Square" near Tobruk, told ABC News.

Human rights groups put the death toll at 300. Witnesses said the number of the dead could be as high as a 1,000.

Young and old, the protesters were determined that Gadhafi be punished.

"He killed our brothers," a protester told ABC News. "He killed our families. He arrested our people."

Across Libya, support for Gadhafi has quickly dissipated with officials from his inner circle defecting, including one of his closest aides, his own cousin.

Gadhafi gave a rambling speech by phone Thursday to say that the revolt was the work of Osama bin Laden, that rebellious youth had been given hallucinogens and to complain that the queen of England has ruled longer than he has without being asked to step down.

Still on Gadhafi's side, however, are the paid mercenaries imported from impoverished African countries.

News network Al Jazeera showed footage of some mercenaries captured by the protesters where they turned a classroom into a makeshift detention center.

"They told us there was a free flight to Tripoli," a man from Chad said. "Instead, we landed here and they told us to join the battle to support Gadhafi, but we found ourselves in the middle of fighting."