Thursday, February 24, 2011

Tripoli: a city in the shadow of death

Gunfire in the suburbs – and fear, hunger and rumour in the capital Thousands race for last tickets out of a city sinking into anarchy


Robert Fisk, with the first dispatch from Libya’s war-torn capital, reports

The Independent, Thursday, 24 February 2011

A fire burns in a street in the Libyan capital Tripoli in the early hours of yesterday morning
AP: A fire burns in a street in the Libyan capital Tripoli in the early hours of yesterday morning 
 
Up to 15,000 men, women and children besieged Tripoli’s international airport last night, shouting and screaming for seats on the few airliners still prepared to fly to Muammar Gaddafi’s rump state, paying Libyan police bribe after bribe to reach the ticket desks in a rain-soaked mob of hungry, desperate families. Many were trampled as Libyan security men savagely beat those who pushed their way to the front.

Among them were Gaddafi’s fellow Arabs, thousands of them Egyptians, some of whom had been living at the airport for two days without food or sanitation. The place stank of faeces and urine and fear. Yet a 45-minute visit into the city for a new airline ticket to another destination is the only chance to see Gaddafi’s capital if you are a “dog” of the international press.

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