UPDATE 12-Deadly clashes on Libya's day of protest

Thu Feb 17, 2011 9:32pm GMT

* Protesters model movement on Egypt and Tunisia revolts

* Five killed in eastern town of Al Bayda -local source

* Phones down, access barred to area of clashes

(Edits, updates with Amnesty International statement)

TRIPOLI, Feb 17 (Reuters) - Deadly clashes broke out in several towns in Libya on Thursday after the opposition called for protests against leader Muammar Gaddafi in a rare show of defiance inspired by uprisings in other Arab states.

Tight controls on media and communications in Libya made it difficult to assess the extent of the violence there. Unrest has spread across North Africa and the Middle East since the fall of the leaders of Tunisia and Egypt. A resident in the eastern city of Benghazi said at least five people had been killed in nearby towns. With phone lines out of order and access barred for journalists, it was impossible to establish an exact death toll.

In the capital of the oil-exporting country there was no sign of unrest, a Reuters reporter said, apart from a group of pro-Gaddafi demonstrators in the city's Green Square chanting "We are defending Gaddafi!" and waving his portrait.

Opponents of Gaddafi, Africa's longest-serving ruler after more than 40 years in power, had used social media to call for protests on Thursday to try to emulate the revolts which unseated rulers in neighbouring Tunisia and Egypt.

The source in Benghazi, who said he had been in contact with people in the nearby town of Al Bayda, said two young men had been killed there on Wednesday and three more had died in clashes after their burial.   Continued...

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