Libyan protesters clashed with police Wednesday in an anti-government demonstration inspired by the uprisings that brought down the rulers of Libya’s neighbors, Egypt and Tunisia.
Opposition activists, organizing through social media, rallied against the country’s long-time leader, Moammar Gadhafi, in the country’s second-biggest city, Benghazi.
Local media reports say protesters threw stones at police, who fired rubber bullets to contain the crowds. Hospital officials say 38 people have been injured in the clashes.
Witnesses say the protests started following the arrest of a human rights defender representing the victims of a 1996 shooting at Libya’s Abu Salim prison.
Libyan state-run media ignored the protests and later reported that groups of government supporters were holding rallies in Benghazi, the capital, Tripoli, and other cities.
Libyan opposition activists have been using the social networking website Facebook to call for “day of rage” protests on Thursday, drawing encouragement from uprisings that ousted authoritarian rulers in Egypt and Tunisia in recent weeks.
Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi has been in power since 1969, when he led a coup against a Western-backed monarchy.