THOUSANDS of young Libyans risked their lives and liberty yesterday as they responded to online calls for a "day of anger" against Colonel Muammar Gaddafi by staging demonstrations in at least half a dozen towns and cities.
Opposition websites claimed that several were killed as a dictatorial regime determined to avoid the fate of Egypt and Tunisia responded with sometimes lethal force.
The deaths could not be verified independently.
Mobile telephone video clips showed vehicles and government buildings set alight, and protesters, predominantly male, burning posters of Colonel Gaddafi.
The protests did not appear large enough to threaten Colonel Gaddafi's 41-year rule, but that they happened at all was remarkable in a police state where opposition is not tolerated and dissidents are routinely imprisoned.
The only demonstration in Tripoli, the capital, was staged in its central Green Square by apparent supporters of Colonel Gaddafi .
The extent of the protests was hard to gauge.
One prominent Libyan author, Idris al-Mesmari, was arrested after a phone interview with al-Jazeera, the Arabic television station. Telephone connections to some cities went down, and there were reports of electricity supplies being cut.
However, Twitter feeds and Facebook postings suggested that a sizeable demonstration against Colonel Gaddafi took place in al-Bayda, a town in the east with 200,000 inhabitants.
The opposition website Libya al-Youm said government snipers killed four protesters. The 'Quryna' newspaper reported that protesters had burnt police cars, and that two young civilians were killed.
There were also unconfirmed reports that six people were shot dead in Benghazi and of clashes in Zentan. (© The Times, London)