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Ahead of the planned protests, Internet services, which have been spotty throughout Libya’s upheaval, appeared to be halted completely in Tripoli on Friday. Renesys Corp., a Manchester, New Hampshire, company that maps the pathways of the Internet, said it wasn’t able to reach any of the websites it tried to access inside Libya on Friday. Google’s transparency report, which shows traffic to the company’s sites from various countries, also showed that Internet traffic had fallen to zero in Libya.

Libyan authorities briefly barred many foreign journalists from leaving their hotel in Tripoli, claiming it was for their protection because they had information “al Qaeda elements” plan to open fire on police to spark clashes. They later allowed them to go out into Tripoli.

Several hours before prayers, security forces began to take up positions. In Tajoura, police set up two checkpoints on the main highway leading to downtown. They stopped cars to search them, check drivers’ ID and ask where they were going or coming from.

AP correspondent Bassem Mroue in Cairo and AP Technology Writer Barbara Ortutay in New York contributed to this report.