Ian Black
Guardian
February 20, 2011

Libya is defying growing international condemnation of a bloody crackdown that saw troops and mercenaries firing at unarmed demonstrators as the death toll rose to more than 200.

The most violent scenes so far of the wave of protests sweeping the Arab world were seen in its most repressive country as Muammar Gaddafi appeared to be relying on brute force to crush what began last week as peaceful protests but may now threaten his 41-year rule.

Tensions eased in the Gulf state of Bahrain after troops withdrew from a square in central Manama occupied by Shia protesters. Thousands of security personnel were deployed in the Iranian capital, Tehran, to forestall an opposition rally. Elsewhere in the region unrest hit Yemen, Morocco, Oman, Kuwait and Algeria.

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