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Muammar Gaddafi made a surprise appearance in Tripoli on Friday, addressing supporters in the capital amid reports that up to 8 anti-regime protesters had been killed in clashes with security forces.
towards governance. The only gunfire on the streets has been celebratory, uniformed traffic police direct traffic in the center of town and a few of the city’s banks have reopened.
"For 42 years we were kept alive-dead," said Hana Kahlig, a human rights organizer volunteering at the courthouse. "We didn't have freedom of speech, education is below zero. He [Gaddafi] treated us like cockroaches, forcing us to live without lights or water. Now we want to live with freedom, just like everyone else."
Tens of thousands of people gathered outside the courthouse for Friday prayers this afternoon and former soldiers who had defected helped keep the crowd organized. An imam spoke on a raised stage and over loudspeakers about liberating Tripoli and the fight for freedom.
Funeral services were also held today for three of the victims of this past week’s clashes between the opposition and forces loyal to Gaddafi.
There remains, however, a sense of uncertainty over how long this newfound peace will last, and some question whether or not Gaddafi will target Benghazi, the birthplace of this revolution.
Swiss freeze Gaddafi's assets
Switzerland on Friday ordered the country's banks to block any assets belonging to the regime of Gaddafi, marking Bern's fourth such freeze in the last month involving assets that may belong to African and Middle Eastern leaders.
It previously ordered a freeze of any assets belonging to the regimes of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and former Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, as well as Ivory Coast's Laurent Gbagbo, who has refused to step down after an election which the outside world says he lost.
Switzerland has long been considered a safe haven for illicit assets deposited by corrupt leaders and strongmen.
The blocking order, which includes real estate and luxury goods and covers 29 people, including Gaddafi's wife and children, relatives of his wife and six government officials, takes immediate effect and lasts for three years, according to the Wall Street Journal.
U.S. President Barack Obama spoke with European leaders Thursday to coordinate an international response to the crisis in Libya. The president spoke with the leaders of France, Italy and the United Kingdom as he sought to ensure the safety of Americans in Libya and bring an end to the violence against the Libyan people.
Obama discussed with the respective leaders various ways to hold the Libyan government accountable for its violent crackdown over the past week and efforts to provide humanitarian assistance, according to a White House statement.
The U.S. has said that all options are under consideration, including sanctions about the Libyan regime and enforcement of a no-fly zone.
Obama and the European leaders will also work closely on the evacuation of foreigners, according to British Prime Minister David Cameron's Downing Street office.
Cameron stressed "the importance of seizing this moment of opportunity for change in the region," according to his spokesman.
The prime minister, on a visit to Muscat, told BBC, "The behavior of this dictator cannot be allowed to stand."
On Wednesday, Obama made his first public statement concerning the crisis in Libya, calling the crackdown by leader Muammar Gaddafi "outrageous" and "unacceptable."
Anti-Gaddafi forces close on Tripoli
Gaddafi's forces reportedly used automatic weapons and an anti-aircraft gun to attack Zawiya, a city 30 miles west of Tripoli on Thursday. They opened fire on a mosque, blasting the minaret with the anti-aircraft gun, where residents tried to fight back with hunting rifles. The fighting lasted four hours and left at least 100 dead, reported the New York Times. A Libyan news site put the death toll at 23.
A witness told AP that the residents at the mosque were holding a sit-in to support demonstrators in Tripoli.
Gaddafi's forces also tried to take back control of Misrata, Libya's third largest city and long a Gaddafi stronghold, by attacking dissidents at the airport with rocket-propelled grenades and mortars. Anti-government demonstrators had largely taken control of the city, which is about 120 miles east of Tripoli, on Wednesday.
Reuters reports that anti-government forces secured the city after the battle at the airport.
"Calm returned to the city around four hours ago after intense fighting in the morning," a witness told Reuters. "The people's spirits here are high, they are celebrating and chanting 'God is greatest.' "
Opposition forces have taken control in most of the eastern half of the country.
— Freya Petersen, Hanna Ingber Win
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