Thousands of people in Tripoli live in fear of secret police as they struggle with a shortage of food and fuel approaching a humanitarian crisis, several current and former residents of the Libyan capital said Tuesday.
As protests against longtime dictator Col. Moammar Gadhafi have erupted across most of the North African nation since early February, the regime has terrorized most residents of Tripoli into submission, they told The Washington Times.
Security forces have rounded up a large number of residents, and parents have kept their children from school to avoid prying questions from teachers about loyalty to Col. Gadhafi. Facing a shortage of bread and gas, Tripoli is on the brink of a humanitarian crisis, many Libyan sources said.
Even a simple telephone call from an unknown person can cause panic among Tripoli residents.
“It is very dangerous. I could be in big trouble for talking to you,” Rehna, whose last name has been withheld out of concern for her safety, told a Times reporter calling from Washington.
Then after a brief pause, she explained: “Youre a journalist. And youre calling from America.”
Rehnas reaction is a symptom of the pervading fear described by residents of Tripoli and their relatives in the West.
They said security forces routinely arrest people on the mere suspicion that they have corresponded outside Libya by computer or phone.
People living in high-rise buildings tell him that pro-Gadhafi snipers have occupied the top floors. Mercenaries loyal to the regime are seen occasionally in the streets.
“People are afraid to talk to their neighbors because they dont know if they support Gadhafi.”
Tripoli residents said the main reason for the absence of a full-blown uprising in their city is that they have no arms to take on the regime.View Entire Story
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
Ashish Kumar Sen is a reporter covering foreign policy and international developments for The Washington Times.
Prior to joining The Times, Mr. Sen worked for publications in Asia and the Middle East. His work has appeared in a number of publications and online news sites including the British Broadcasting Corp., Asia Times Online and Outlook magazine.
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