Crowds of Benghazi protesters cheer U.N. resolution

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 21, 2011 11:34 AM
Crowds of Benghazi protesters cheer U.N. resolution

CAIRO (Reuters) - Protesters against Muammar Gaddafi in the eastern city of Benghazi cheered and let off fireworks on Friday after a U.N. Security Council vote authorizing a no-fly zone over Libya, live footage showed.

A crowd of thousands fired guns in the air, set off fireworks and waved flags from the monarchy era in celebration, Al Jazeera television showed.

The Security Council voted to authorize a no-fly zone over Libya and "all necessary measures" -- code for military action -- to protect civilians against leader Gaddafi's forces.

"1,2,3, thank you Sarkozy!" the crowd chanted, with many waving French flags. "We have stopped his plans," they chanted. "We will triumph."

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has been strongly urging his partners at the U.N. Security Council to back a resolution on a no-fly zone over Libya and was the first to recognize the rebel Libyan National Council.

Gaddafi told Libyan rebels earlier on Thursday his armed forces were coming to their capital Benghazi tonight and would not show any mercy to fighters who resisted them.

In a radio address, he told Benghazi residents that soldiers would search every house in the city and people who had no arms had no reason to fear, but the crowds remained defiant into the early hours of the night.

"Muammar, you liar. We are the men of the nation!" the crowds chanted.

"Muammar, you are surrounded. No ships and no planes will help you," they said, some waving Egyptian flags.

Gaddafi accused the rebels of having backing from Egyptian and Tunisian protesters, who have toppled their presidents and wanted to wreak instability in Libya.

(Writing by Dina Zayed; Editing by Elizabeth Fullerton)