As death toll rises, Libyan Muslim leaders urge troops to stop killing
Libyan Muslim leaders asked security forces to stop killing civilians, as the death toll from protests against Muammar Gaddafi's regime was over 100.
Libyan forces have shot dead dozens of anti-government protesters in the eastern city of Benghazi, according to Al Jazeera television.
Britain's Independent newspaper on Sunday said the body count in Benghazi, Libya's second largest city, may be as high as 200.
Benghazi and the surrounding area have been the focus of the protests, but posts on social network sites also mentioned clashes in the capital Tripoli and of overnight gunfire in Nalut, to the west.
Al Jazeera on Sunday reported some security personnel captured by protesters appeared to be foreign mercenaries. Earlier, the Qatar-based channel said security forces fired at mourners at a funeral killing at least 15 people.
The carnage prompted some 50 Libyan Muslim religious leaders to issue an appeal, cited by Reuters, for the security forces, as Muslims, to stop the killing. "This is an urgent appeal from religious scholars (faqihs and Sufi sheikhs), intellectuals, and clan elders from Tripoli, Bani Walid, Zintan, Jadu, Msalata, Misrata, Zawiah, and other towns and villages of the western area," said the appeal.
"We appeal to every Muslim, within the regime or assisting it in any way, to recognize that the killing of innocent human beings is forbidden by our Creator and by His beloved Prophet of Compassion (peace be upon him)... Do NOT kill your brothers and sisters. STOP the massacre NOW!"