N. Africa, Mideast unrest: Hundreds flee Libya as Obama orders sanctions
A U.S. ferry carrying about 300 people, including 168 Americans, arrived Friday night in Malta from Libya.
February 25th, 2011
08:46 PM ET

N. Africa, Mideast unrest: Hundreds flee Libya as Obama orders sanctions

Across the Middle East and North Africa, CNN's reporters and iReporters are covering protests, many of them inspired by revolts in Tunisia and Egypt that toppled those countries' longtime rulers. Check out our story explaining the roots of the unrest in each country and full coverage of the situation in Libya. Have a story to tell from the scene? Click here to send an iReport.

Developments on unrest in the Middle East and North Africa:

[LIBYA, 8:46 p.m. ET, 3:46 a.m. local] U.S. President Barack Obama said Friday that sanctions against Libya will target the government while protecting the people.

"We will stand steadfastly with the Libyan people in their demand for universal rights and a government that is responsive to their aspirations," he said in a statement. "Their human dignity cannot be denied."

[MAURITANIA, 6:21 p.m. ET, 11:21 p.m. local] A rare demonstration took place Friday in the streets of Mauritania after hundreds of protesters gathered, calling for social and political change, a journalist says.

The call to action started last week on Facebook, which is said to be very popular in Mauritania, said the journalist. Young protesters were surrounded by police during several hours of peaceful demonstrations in the capital city of Nouakchott, according to reports.

[LIBYA, 4:02 p.m. ET, 11:02 p.m. local] Abdurrahman Mohamed Shalgham, Libya's ambassador to the United Nations, on Friday recommended targeted sanctions against Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, members of his family and his supporters responsible for killing civilians in the North African country.

"It's not a crime to say, I want to be free," Shalgham said, adding that the targeting of people expressing discontent with Gadhafi's rule "cannot continue."

[LIBYA, 3:41 p.m. ET, 10:41 p.m. local] Members of the U.N. Human Rights Council recommend setting up an inquiry into allegations of abuse and rights violations in Libya, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said Friday afternoon. There was also a recommendation to suspend Libya from the council.

Ban pointed to what he called a "growing crisis of refugees and displaced persons" in Libya. He estimated that 22,000 had fled through Tunisia in recent weeks and another 15,000 through Egypt, adding that "larger numbers are, in fact, trapped and unable to leave" for fears of their safety.

"We anticipate the situation to worsen," Ban said.

[LIBYA, 2:55 p.m. ET, 9:55 p.m. local] A U.S. ferry carrying about 300 people, including 168 Americans, arrived Friday night in Malta. Bad weather initially delayed its departure from Tripoli.

[LIBYA, 2:50 p.m. ET, 9:50 p.m. local] The U.S. Embassy in Libya "has been shuttered," White House press secretary Jay Carney said Friday.

The U.S. government will use the "full extent" of its intelligence capabilities to monitor Moammar Ghadafi's regime and gather evidence of atrocities committed against the Libyan people, Carney also said.

Gadhafi's "legitimacy has been reduced to zero in the eyes" of the Libyan people, he said.

"The status quo is neither tenable nor acceptable," Carney said.

[LIBYA, 12:50 p.m. ET, 7:50 p.m. local] Moammar Gadhafi said he was one with his people and would defend Libya at all costs, according to a public address aired Friday on state television. Wearing a fur trooper hat, Gadhafi said he didn't deserve to live if Libyans did not love him. "Get ready to defend Libya, defend petroleum, the dignity and the glory," Gadhafi said. "We can destroy any armed violence with the armed people."

[LIBYA, 12:13 p.m. ET, 7:13 p.m. local] Defiant Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi made a public appearance aired on state television Friday, telling his supporters to "sing, dance and be happy." State TV said it was live, but that could not be independently confirmed.

[LIBYA, 11:17 a.m. ET, 6:17 p.m. local] Protesters took control of the eastern Libyan city of Brega and its oil terminal Friday, according to an official who works at the communications department for the Port of Brega.

[LIBYA, 10:22 a.m. ET, 5:22 p.m. local] A flight chartered by the U.S. government plans to leave Tripoli on Friday to take U.S citizens to Istanbul, the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli said in a statement. The plane is to leave from Mitiga Air Field near downtown Tripoli, the statement said.

[LIBYA, 7:59 a.m. ET, 2:59 p.m. local] Mohammed Ali Abdallah of the opposition NFSL said that multiple people in Tripoli report that heavy clashes are taking place during demonstrations after Friday prayers. Protesters and security forces are fighting in the areas of Fashloom and Algeria Square. Witnesses report  snipers and artillery fire. Women and children are among the injured. Clashes also are reported in the Souq el Juma area and El Dahmani near the beach. Demonstrators are moving toward Green Square, Abdallah said.

[LIBYA, 7:30 a.m. ET, 2:30 p.m. local] A ferry chartered by the United States left a port in Libya on Friday, a spokesman for the company operating the ferry said. The ferry has at least 285 people on board, mostly Americans who have fled the chaos, the U.S. government has said. It's bound for Malta.

[LIBYA, 6:31 a.m. ET, 1:34 p.m. local] Sources indicate "thousands may have been killed or injured" in anti-government protests in Libya, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights said Friday.

[YEMEN, 5:34 a.m. ET, 1:34 p.m. local] Thousands of demonstrators, mostly  students, were lining the streets outside Sanaa University  Friday, as anti-government protests continued.

Government loyalists had also said they planned counter-demonstrations in the Yemeni capital after Friday prayers.

[TURKEY, 5:02 a.m. ET, 12:02 p.m. local] Four military planes took off from Tripoli on Friday morning and landed in Turkey,  getting 423 citizens out of Libya, according to the Tukish Foreign Ministry. Turkish Airlines is planning at least 3 chartered flights from Tripoli to Istanbul.

[LIBYA, 5:01 a.m. ET, 12:01 p.m. local] A United States ferry with at least 275 people safely on board was expected to leave Libya at some point Friday.  The Department of State recommended Thursday that any U.S. citizens in Libya "depart immediately due to the potential for ongoing unrest."

[BAHRAIN, 4:37 a.m. ET, 12:37 p.m. local] The leader of Bahrain's largest opposition party said Friday that he was unable to return from exile this week because he was detained in Lebanon.

"I am still in Beirut," Hassan Mushaimaa, leader of the Haq Movement, said Friday. "I was detained for hours on Tuesday. Then I was  released. I am now outside of the airport, and it would be better if I  do not disclose my whereabouts."

[LIBYA, 4:02 a.m. ET, 11:02 a.m. local] In a tit-for-tat gesture, Libya and Lebanon refused to allow planes from one country to land in the other.  The Libyans refused to let a Middle East Airlines plane land to pick up Lebanese nationals stranded in the North African Nation, the official Lebanese news agency said Friday.

[LIBYA, 4:01 a.m. ET, 11:01 a.m. local] At a U.N. Security Council Friday to discuss measures against Libya, France said it will ask for a complete arms embargo and sanctions  against the North African nation and request that the International Criminal Court look at the violence directed at civilians there as crimes against humanity.

"The situation is dramatic, (and) even though we don't know the exact number  of victims, a lot of  things indicate that there are several hundred so there cannot be any  impunity," French Foreign Minister Michele Alliot-Marie told the France Info public radio station Friday.

[LIBYA, 3:54 a.m. ET, 10:54 a.m. local] A consultation is under way between Libyans in the country and overseas to form a national transitional body to coordinate all efforts of resistance in the country and worldwide, a source said.

The body's objective is to highlight national unity, according to the source, who is familiar with negotiations between opposition groups. It will also coordinate all revolutionary activities until the fall of what is left of the regime, according to the  source.

[LIBYA, 3:31 a.m. ET, 10:31 a.m. local] World leaders will meet Friday to discuss sanctions against Libya as nations braved rough seas to whisk citizens away from the escalating violence in the north African nation.

[LIBYA, 2:14 a.m. ET, 9:14 a.m. local] A British frigate, the HMS Cumberland, has left the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi with 207 people on board, officials said.

The ship is due to arrive in the Maltese port of Valetta about 3 p.m. (9 a.m. ET) Friday, with turbulent seas making the journey longer than normal.  Sixty-eight of those evacuated were British nationals.

[LIBYA, 10:43 p.m. ET, 5:43 a.m. local] Doctors at a field hospital in Martyrs Square in Zawiya said Friday that 17 people were killed and another 150 were wounded when government forces attacked the city. They predicted the death toll would rise by morning.

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Filed under: Africa • Algeria • Bahrain • Egypt • Libya • Protest • Tunisia • World • Yemen
soundoff (202 Responses)
  1. Jean

    What is going on in North Africa, is not about Moubarack nor Kadhafi; its is a sign of the time. Remember? NO. Maybe your are too young to remember, however history could remind us. History told us that our civilization started from egypt moved mesopotemia, to mainland Africa, passed throug europe arrived in the Americas. These revolution in North Africa warn leaders around the world that people on earth have enough of the way you've been treating then over 6 thousands years or so. Enough from social oppression, from inequality, tirany, injustice by leaders. Leaders or Kings or groups even people who think they can steal 90% of the world's whealth for themselves and their family; sooner or later change is coming. Change is coming to the world, change is coming to America. From Tunisia to Egypt to Libya from Greece to France from eastern Europe to America change is coming. The world is tired with your system, Leaders of the world.

    February 25, 2011 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cesar

      Bien puesto,Jean. Muchas gracias.

      February 25, 2011 at 6:14 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Zeta

    Amen, Jean!

    February 25, 2011 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Zeta

    "Sing, dance, and be happy."

    Is any further proof needed that Gadhafi is suffering from dementia?

    February 25, 2011 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Cesar

    Does Gadalfi dye his hair? I ask because he's like 100 years old, and no grey hair.

    February 25, 2011 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
  5. rosa

    We r to concerned about what happens in the middle eastern countries. That we lose sight about the problems in our own country. People losing jobs, their homes. Before we help to correct their problems the politicians to concern them selves with the american people. Washington makes me sick. They should cut their salaries to reduce the deficit instead of raising taxes.

    February 25, 2011 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |

      Thank you,rosa. Very well said.

      February 25, 2011 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Matt


    February 25, 2011 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
  7. SSee

    Am I the only one who thinks the 'Gadhafi' we have been seeing this week is an unfortunate double and the real Gadhafi is lounging on a beach somewhere watching and counting his $$?

    February 25, 2011 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
  8. banay


    I'm guessing he does...either that or Grecian Formula 5000!

    February 25, 2011 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
  9. banasy



    February 25, 2011 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Dave K

    Just saw a disturbing report on CNN Situation Room in which reporters told the location, amount, security measures, and instructions on how to use mustard gas in an improvised weapon. Let's hope the terrorists missed this edition of the Situation Room.

    February 25, 2011 at 6:06 pm | Report abuse |
  11. FalseProphetPolice

    See?... I called Muhammad, Jesus, Buddha and all the rest of them false prophets and God hasn't laid bloody vengeance upon me like ezekiel said. Your religions are frauds. Fight back against tyrannical theology. Your leaders attend church then drop bombs on babies. They lie. Open your eyes. They are the Devil in disguise.

    February 25, 2011 at 6:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • allfaith

      Do you mean organized religions? Every individual has a different God, a different idea of everything. Isn't true religion about recognizing that we're all equal parts of a whole and acting appropriately?

      February 25, 2011 at 7:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • M

      Libya without Qaddafi.....the same sh - just a different nut job!

      February 25, 2011 at 8:10 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Cesar

    Hey CNN! This is the real Cesar! Please police your site better. There are clowns impersonating me and it's not funny. Viva Che!

    February 25, 2011 at 6:18 pm | Report abuse |
  13. lazzo

    who ya lookin for? k9cesar?

    February 25, 2011 at 6:28 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Dan

    Sing, dance, and be happy.
    As bullets fly underfoot.

    This man is crazy, and so is the rest of the world.

    February 25, 2011 at 6:28 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Gadhafi

    Actually I had my head treated by an Amazon shaman. I kinda like the texture and color of those shrunken heads so I had them do me up. The only down side is the shaman now controls my soul. Small price to pay for looking so hot.

    February 25, 2011 at 6:33 pm | Report abuse |
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