CAIRO — The faltering government of the Libyan strongman Col.Muammar el-Qaddafi struck back at mounting protests against his 40-year rule, as security forces and militiamen backed by helicopters and warplanes besieged parts of the capital Monday, according to witnesses and news reports from Tripoli.
By Monday night, witnesses said, the streets of the capital, Tripoli, were thick with special forces loyal to Colonel Qaddafi as well as mercenaries. They shot freely as planes dropped what witnesses described as “small bombs” and helicopters fired on protesters, making further demonstrations against the government impossible for the moment.
Hundreds of Qaddafi supporters took over Green Square after truck loads of militiamen arrived and opened fire on protesters, scattering them from the square. Residents said they now feared even to emerge from their houses.