Libyan forces kill funeral mourners

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Moammar Gaddafi's forces have fired on mourners leaving a funeral, killing at least 15 people (AP)

Moammar Gaddafi’s forces have fired on mourners leaving a funeral for protesters, killing at least 15 people and wounding scores more as the regime tried to repress calls for an end to the ruler’s 42-year grip on power.

Libyan protesters were back on the street for the fifth straight day, but Gaddafi has taken a hard line toward the dissent that has ripped through the Middle East and government forces also wiped out a protest encampment and clamped down on internet services throughout the country.

Snipers fired on thousands of people gathered in the eastern city of Benghazi, a focal point of the unrest, to mourn 35 protesters who were shot on Friday, a hospital official said.

A hospital official said 15 people were killed, including one man who was apparently hit in the head with an anti-aircraft missile. The weapons apparently were used to intimidate the population.

“Many of the dead and the injured are relatives of doctors here,” he said. “They are crying and I keep telling them to please stand up and help us.”

The official said many people were shot in the head and chest. The hospital was overwhelmed and people were streaming to the facility to donate blood.

Before Saturday’s violence, Human Rights Watch had estimated at least 84 people have been killed.

Information is tightly controlled in Libya, where journalists cannot work freely, and activists this week have posted videos on the internet that have been an important source of images of the revolt.

However, internet traffic has been stopped and protesters report hey cannot get online. Other information about the protests has come from opposition activists in exile.

Gaddafi is facing the biggest popular uprising of his autocratic reign, with much of the action in the country’s impoverished east.

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