Soldiers and police in Beghazi, Libya’s second city, have thrown in with protesters on the ground and declared the city to be “Free Benghazi.” The Guardian is carrying eyewitness reports of more than 4,000 foreign mercenaries being brought to the country to fight for Gadaffhi, some of whom are in custody of the revolutionary army. The “ransacked” government buildings are flying pre-Gadaffhi-era flags.
An air force officer, Major Rajib Faytouni, said he personally witnessed up to 4,000 mercenaries arrive on Libyan transport planes over a period of three days starting from 14 February. He said: “That’s why we turned against the government. That and the fact there was an order to use planes to attack the people.”
Numerous witnesses in Benghazi have said that while artillery was used against citizens, air force planes did not fire on them here. They did, however, according to Faytouni, drop two bombs inside the Rajma military base to stop weapons falling into the hands of anti-government forces.
“The two colonels who defected in MiGs had refused orders to bomb the people,” he said, referring to a pair of air force officers who fled to Malta in their jets on Monday. He added: “There were also two helicopters that flew to Tunis.”
All around Benghazi there were indications that Gaddafi has lost control of the city. The military is no longer operating checkpoints, which are now manned only by a handful of traffic police. Every physical sign of the dictator has been taken down or burned. While there has been no violence in the past two days, angry demonstrators are driving through city firing Kalashnikov rifles into the air and demanding Gaddafi cede control and leave the country.
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