At least five killed in Tripoli clashes: resident

ALGIERS Fri Feb 25, 2011 8:56am EST

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ALGIERS (Reuters) - At least five people were killed when security forces opened fire on anti-government protesters in the Janzour district in the west of the Libyan capital on Friday, a resident said.

The resident, who did not want to be identified, also said opponents of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi were shouting anti-Gaddafi slogans in the Fashloum district, in the east of Tripoli.

"Gaddafi forces are shooting at the protesters in Janzour ... Between 5 to 7 protesters are believed to killed in Janzour demonstrations about 15 minutes ago," the resident said. His account could not immediately be verified.

The violence came after anti-Gaddafi protesters took control of several towns close to Tripoli following a rebellion centered in the city of Benghazi that removed much of eastern Libya from Gaddafi's control.

Fighting has erupted outside Tripoli in the past 24 hours, but Friday's clashes came during the first anti-Gaddafi protests in the capital since February 22.

In Tripoli, hundreds of protesters at the Slatnah Mosque in the Shargia district of Janzour were chanting anti-Gaddafi slogans, such as "With our souls, with our blood we protect Benghazi!" the resident said.

Another Tripoli resident told a Reuters correspondent in Benghazi that snipers in the Libyan capital were killing people.

Ali, a businessman who declined to give his full name, told Reuters by phone that he was standing near a mosque on a road leading to the central Green Square. There was a crowd gathered in front of the mosque.

"They just started shooting people. People are being killed by snipers but I don't know how many are dead," he told Reuters.

Two Benghazi residents told Reuters that they had spoken to their friends in Tripoli by telephone after noon prayers.

The friends had said people had staged demonstrations outside mosques throughout Tripoli after prayers and intended converging on Green Square.

Mohammad, 42, in Benghazi, said the Tripoli residents believed that if the demonstrators managed to mass in Green Square "that would spell the end for the regime."

Mass demonstrations in city-center squares foreshadowed the toppling of autocratic rulers in Tunisia and Egypt earlier this year.

(Reporting by Christian Lowe; Editing by Giles Elgood)

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