By RFE RL
(RFE/RL) — Reports say troops loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi have attacked antigovernment protesters in the city of Zawiya, some 50 kilometers west of Tripoli.
Troops blasted a minaret of a mosque with antiaircraft missiles and automatic weapons after scores of antigovernment protesters refused to leave the area.
Witnesses quoted by news agencies said protesters who had been camped inside and outside the mosque suffered heavy casualties in the attack.
Reports said antigovernment protesters were now in control of the town of Zuara, some 120 kilometers west of Tripoli.
Opponents of the regime who now control the eastern part of the country vowed to “liberate” Tripoli, where Qaddafi is holed up with a force of militia fighters roaming the streets and tanks guarding the outskirts.
U.S. President Barack Obama said the suffering and bloodshed in Libya “is outrageous and it is unacceptable,” and he directed his administration to prepare a full range of options, including possible sanctions.
Another proposal is for the United Nations to declare a no-fly zone over Libya to prevent it from using warplanes to hit protesters.
Meanwhile, tens of thousands of foreigners and Libyans continue to flee the country.