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Protesters killed in Libya, Yemen as wave of Arab unrest continues
"The plan is to go toward Sirte," said Khaled Sayeh, a spokesman for the opposition's military council. Sirte lies on the Gulf of Sidra about 280 miles east of Tripoli.
Sayeh said that in Ras Lanuf, some Gaddafi forces had hoisted a white flag of surrender and that the rebels had taken charge of the town.
In Tripoli, Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Kaim denied that Ras Lanuf had fallen. "The government controls it," he told reporters, according to Reuters news agency.
There were also reports of an overnight battle in rebel-held Misurata, Libya's third-largest city about 130 miles east of Tripoli.
Rebels later said they remained in control of Misurata but were besieged by Gaddafi forces and were running low on food and ammunition. One local leader called on foreign powers to air-drop supplies.
In the United States, White House spokesman Jay Carney recalled President Obama's remarks on Libya from the previous day, saying, "We're not taking any options off the table either in terms of how we approach it or in terms of how we would work with our international partners to approach the problem."
Speaking to reporters aboard Air Force One, Carney said Obama, who traveled to Miami Friday for an education event and party fund-raisers, is receiving three briefings a day on Libya. Carney said Obama "is appalled by the use of force against unarmed, peaceful civilians."
Obama "believes that Colonel Gaddafi has lost all legitimacy with his people and in the world at large, and needs to step down and remove himself from power," Carney said.
In Tripoli, anti-government demonstrators took to the streets after Friday prayers despite a heavy security crackdown. They scattered only after pro-Gaddafi forces fired tear gas, then live ammunition, into the crowd, witnesses said.
The protest, timed to coincide with the Muslim holy day, was echoed across the Middle East, with tens of thousands of demonstrators gathering in Yemen, Bahrain and Jordan after midday prayers.
There were also demonstrations Friday across Saudi Arabia, where people gathered to demand the release of political prisoners and greater political freedoms. The main protests - although small compared to the ones sweeping other Arab countries - were in the Eastern Province, Saudi Arabia's oil-rich area with a heavy Shiite population.
A video posted on YouTube appeared to show several hundred protesters gathering in Riyadh, outside the capital's al-Rajhi mosque, and activists said a demonstration also took place in the coastal city of Jiddah.