Grieving Libyans in Sheffield plead to halt slaughter back home

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LIBYANS living in Sheffield have told of their heartbreak after their relatives were killed or injured by Colonel Gaddafi in his crackdown on pro-democracy campaigners.

Dozens of people from the Arab state, many of them students, gathered outside the Town Hall yesterday in a show of solidarity for people revolting against the regime.

Slogans of “we want peace, we want freedom” were chanted by the crowd, who held aloft placards and photos of some of the hundreds of victims.

Belgsim Al Abidi, aged 37, studying for a PHD in geography at Sheffield University, said: “The British Government needs to know what is happening and get Gaddafi to stop killing his people.”

Mr Al Abidi, who has lived in Pitsmoor for four years and was one of the protest organisers, said he lost his cousin, Hosan Al Abidi, in the town of Al Marj.

“He was shot in a demonstration. I heard on Sunday evening by phone but Gaddafi is now having the communications cut so it is difficult to know what is going on. He has brought foreign mercenaries in to kill the demonstrators.”

Mohamad Abdalsalam, a PHD student at Sheffield Hallam University, said: “My brother-in-law Zead was killed in Elbieda. He was just 18 years old and demonstrating peacefully. They shot him in the head.”

Hallam University student Asaed Ismail, 40, said one of his relatives, Abdulbast Ben Ismail, had been shot dead in the capital Tripoli.

“Gaddafi is not saying sorry and is trying to do anything he can to hold on to power.”

Mr Ismail said despite the bloodshed, he believes demonstrators in the country can overthrow Gaddafi.

“Gaddafi should not be killing people. He should accept that he has lost and just go.”

Hundreds of people are reported to have been killed in Libya by foreign mercenaries and militia brought in by Gaddafi to suppress uprisings against his rule .

n Chaos in Libya: P6