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The World

February 26, 2011

Libya: Tripoli residents say civilians being armed

TRIPOLI, Libya — Residents in the Libyan capital say the embattled regime of Moammar Gadhafi is arming civilian supporters to set up checkpoints and quash dissent.

A popular uprising throughout the country has posed the biggest challenge Gadhafi has faced in his 42-year rule. He has maintained control in the capital by using violence on protesters, though rebels have seized control of about half of Libya's coastline.

Pro-Gadhafi forces opened fire Friday on demonstrations after Muslims prayers, and Gadhafi told supporters he would "open the arms depot so all Libyans and tribes become armed."

Residents contacted by phone from Cairo on Saturday reported trucks of pro-regime civilians patrolling the streets. They spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution.

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