A Libyan opposition activist and a Tripoli resident say the streets of a restive district in the Libyan capital are littered with the bodies of scores of protesters shot dead by security forces loyal to longtime leader Muammar Gadhafi, who is reported to be barricaded in his compound in the city.
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Mohammed Ali of the Libyan Salvation Front and the resident say Tripoli's inhabitants are hunkering down at home Tuesday after the killings and warnings by forces loyal to Gadhafi that anyone on the streets would be shot.
Ali, reached in Dubai, and the Tripoli resident say forces loyal to Gadhafi shot at ambulances and some protesters were left bleeding to death. The resident spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.
Western media are largely barred from Libya and the report couldn't be independently confirmed.
The country's unrest is continuing as deep rifts open in Gadhafi's regime, with Libyan government officials at home and abroad resigning, citing the violence against anti-government protesters as the central reason.
The representative of Libya to the Arab Leauge said the embattled leader is barricaded in "an area that is six square kilometers large."
Abdulmoneim al-Honi, who resigned in protests over the regime's brutal crackdown on demonstrations said "there are now only two barracks held by Gadhafi and his followers. The rest of the country is now controlled by the youth."
Gadhafi is refusing to bow to the opposition, appearing on state TV early Tuesday to attempt to show he is still in charge and to dispel rumors that he had fled the country. Sitting in a car in front of what appeared to be his residence, he said, "I am here to show that I am in Tripoli and not in Venezuela."
Pro-Gadhafi militia drove through Tripoli with loudspeakers and told people not to leave their homes, witnesses said, as security forces sought to keep the unrest that swept eastern parts of the country - leaving the second-largest city of Benghazi in protesters' control - from overwhelming the capital of 2 million people.
Warplanes swooped low over Tripoli in the evening Monday and snipers took up position on roofs, apparently to stop people outside the capital from joining protests, according to Mohammed Abdul-Malek, a London-based opposition activist in touch with residents.
The eruption of turmoil in the capital after seven days of protests and bloody clashes in Libya's eastern cities sharply escalated the challenge to Gadhafi. His security forces have unleashed the bloodiest crackdown of any Arab country against the wave of protests sweeping the region, which toppled leaders of Egypt and Tunisia.
At least 233 people have been killed so far, according to New York-based Human Rights Watch. The difficulty in getting information from Libya made obtaining a precise death toll impossible. Communications to Tripoli appeared to have been cut, and residents could not be reached by phone from outside the country.