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Gaddafi vows to 'die as a martyr,' refuses to relinquish power

Motivated by recent shows of political strength by neighbors in Egypt, demonstrators in the Middle East and North Africa are taking to the streets of many cities to rally for change.

One resident said via e-mail that there were no ambulances available, in part because some of them had been shot up and set ablaze by Libyan mercenaries working to protect Gaddafi's regime. There were "reports of mercenaries riding in ambulances and shooting at people," said the resident, who asked that his name not be used because he feared for his security.

In the Tajoura, an enclave on the eastern end of the capital, there were reports of dead bodies and injured people left on the streets because air strikes had blocked access to the area, the resident said.

It is impossible to verify the scope or precise details of the events unfolding in Libya. Foreign journalists have been denied visas, and Internet access, phone service and other forms of communications have been largely cut.

But in interviews with Libyan residents, exiles and diplomats, as well as in videos posted online, a picture unfolded of a nation in the throes of the bloodiest revolution to emerge so far from the populist upheavals sweeping across the Middle East and North Africa.

Human Rights Watch said at least 223 people were killed Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The group did not report Monday's toll. Al-Jazeera television, quoting medical sources, said at least 61 people were killed in the protests in Tripoli overnight Sunday.

In a statement, Kerry, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the Gaddafi government's "use of deadly force against its own people should mean the end of the regime itself. It's beyond despicable, and I hope we are witnessing its last hours in power."

While Gaddafi himself "is irredeemable," Kerry said, "his senior military commanders need to know that their acquiescence in atrocities could open them to future international war crimes charges." He called on foreign oil companies to stop operating in Libya until the violence against civilian ends and said the Obama administration should consider reimposing U.S. sanctions that were lifted during the George W. Bush administration.

Kerry also called on the U.N. Security Council to "condemn the violence and explore temporary sanctions, including an arms embargo and protection for Libyan civilian centers." He urged the Arab League to get involved and said the African Union should "vigorously investigate reports that African mercenaries are involved in the atrocities in Libya."

The U.N. Security Council was expected to meet Tuesday to discuss the crisis. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called for an immediate end to the violence. "Such attacks against civilians, if confirmed, would constitute a serious violation of international humanitarian law," his spokesman said.

In the Egyptian town of Masra Matrouh, two hours from the border, thousands of Egyptians and some Libyans and Westerners who had fled the unrest gathered Tuesday, searching for transportation to points elsewhere in Egypt.

A gaggle of men sat with packed bags, blankets and a television set at the OiLibya gas station. On the roads, vans packed with medical aid rushed west to the border in hopes of entering Libya, where hundreds are believed to have been killed and injuring in the military crackdown.

Vans heading east into Egypt from Libya were piled with suitcases and people fleeing the unrest.

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