Hundreds of thousands of Egyptians gathered in Cairo’s landmark Tahrir Square on Friday to celebrate the success of their January 25 revolution. Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: Anti-government protesters have seized control of the eastern Libyan city of Al Bayda after they were joined by some local police, two separate Libyan exile groups said on Friday.

"Al Bayda is in the hands of the people," Giumma Al Omami of the Libyan Human Rights Solidarity group told Reuters. The reports, which the two groups said were based on their own telephone contacts with the city of some 250,000 people, could not be independently verified.

Meanwhile, Libyan anti-regime demonstrators hanged two policemen after capturing them in the eastern city of Al Bayda, according to the website of Oea newspaper, reports AFP.

Some residents of Benghazi, where the protests first erupted, told Gulf News that Libya is "on the verge of becoming free from dictatorship" as Muammar Gaddafi's regime vowed to snuff attempts to challenge the Libyan leader.

"The response of the people and the Revolutionary Forces to any adventure by these small groups will be sharp and violent," the Revolutionary Committees said on the website of their newspaper Azzahf Al Akhdar (Green March).

Gulf News has learnt that protesters broke into the central jail of Kuwafiya in Benghazi and liberated political prisoners. Thousands took to the streets late on Friday to protest against security forces killing more than 20 protesters.

"Bodies of martyrs are still littering the main Nasser Street after security forces killed as many as 20 people and injured 235 during the Thursday evening protests in the city," Fattah Al Idrisi, a resident in the city centre told Gulf News over the phone.

Gulf News later lost contact with the resident after the government disconnected telephone calls and internet services.

One citizen said there were North Koreans and Bangladeshis among scores of pro-government forces mobilised to suppress the protesters last night.

Yemen deaths

Meanwhile, gunfire was reported in the Yemeni capital Sana'a on Friday. Reports said at least three people were killed as security forces cracked down on protesters gathered for the biggest demonstration in eight days.

In a rare flare-up in Syria, there was a spontaneous demonstration after a traffic policeman beat up a young man. Opposition website, all4Syria.info said hundreds protested shouting, "the Syrian people will not be humiliated' and ‘police, thieves".

In Oman, approximately 500 people, mostly youth, gathered at the Oil and Gas Ministry Roundabout in Muscat demanding higher wages and called on ministers who have held positions for 40 years or more to step down. The demonstration was peaceful.

With inputs from agencies