Libyan women join protesters in Washington to call for the ouster of Libyan leader Mummar Gaddafi. Image Credit: AP

Dubai: The number of Libyans killed so far in the February 17th uprising is spiralling by the hour. Medical and human rights sources told Gulf News on Sunday that the number of people killed in the uprising has reached 250 by mid-day.

The figure, however, has risen dramatically in the afternoon with an additional 50 people killed by government mercenaries in Benghazi alone.

Eighteen-month-old Ahmad Al Darsi might become the youngest martyr in the current Libya youth revolution launched in Benghazi.

More than 300 people have been killed in the revolution, including 208 in Benghazi alone, according to sources who spoke to Gulf News.

Benghazi, the second largest city in Libya, 1,000km east of the capital Tripoli, has been isolated from the rest of the world since Thursday afternoon.

Ahmad's family could not be contacted due to lack of proper communication with residents in the city, but witnesses told Gulf News that Ahmad's father was carrying his youngest son on his shoulders while taking part in a peaceful demonstration in front of the North Benghazi Court House when a sniper shot Ahmad in the head.

Sources from the Central Benghazi Hospital confirmed the incident and said that the toddler was killed by an anti-aircraft bullet.

"So far, in the past three days, more than 300 people have been killed in the revolution, including 208 in Benghazi alone. A total of 1,000 civilians were injured in Benghazi, 50 per cent of them suffering serious injuries," Dr Abdul Karim Al Qabayli, director of the hospital, told Gulf News.

Judge Jamal Bennor, one of the leaders of the court sit-in, told Gulf News that the killing of demonstrators has made them even more determined to achieve their objectives.

He said the square in front of the court which saw 3,000 people on the first day of the demonstrations has seen this number swell to 150,000 to 200,000.

Bennor said he and 40 members of the North Benghazi Court House decided to stage a peaceful demonstration in front of the court last Thursday.

More deaths

"Security personnel however refused to allow the peaceful protest and used guns and live ammunition to handle the crowd. This resulted in the killing of eight protesters in the first hour of the protest," Bennor said.

The next day (Friday), he said, the situation in front of the court house was even bloodier with more deaths and injuries. On Saturday, the situation reached its climax — with 1,000 people injured and 208 killed, including Ahmad Al Darsi.

"We insisted that our movement would remain peaceful and requested Gaddafi to start genuine reforms in the country," Bennor said.

"Our demands were for justice, equality and writing of a constitution that set the terms for handing over power in a legal and peaceful manner, but the authorities refused to abide by this simple demand.

"Libya has been ruled by Gaddafi without a constitution following the scrapping of the constitution in a military coup on September 1, 1969.

"Gaddafi, the longest serving leader in the world, is giving parts of Libya to his sons like any other real estate baron.

"The people of Libya have spoken and will not return home unless their objectives are achieved. We have our lives to offer for the liberty of the nation and we are sure of achieving this goal."

Bennor said the city was now under the control of revolutionaries.

Yesterday a DC-10 plane loaded with mercenaries from Tripoli landed in Abraq military airport near the city to crush the uprising, but failed to enter the centre of the city.

The mercenary forces known locally as yellow-helmet troops were promised a sum of $100 per day to suppress the uprising.

"If it took Zine Al Abidine Bin Ali four weeks to run away from the country and 18 days for Mubarak to resign, Gaddafi will be searching for an African country to host him along with his family in less than a week," Bennor said.

"He is in a confused stage at this moment. Gaddafi is passing through two stages which usually hit dictators in their last days, denial and revenge.

Severe shortage

"No government in the world will kill its people the way Gaddafi has ordered his mercenaries to do in Benghazi and elsewhere in the country."

The city has three hospitals with a total capacity of 2,000 beds. All three were full last night. There is a shortage of almost everything, including blood transfusion units. Dr Abdul Karim Al Qabayli called on the people of Benghazi and neighbouring cities to donate blood.

Lawyer Mustafa Al Manei told Gulf News that the demonstrators in the court square were sure they would be successful in replacing the current regime with a democratic one.

"Tunisians and Egyptians are no better than Libyans. We deserve to live in a democratic system like everyone else," he added.

Is this getting out of control? Do such protests bring change?