Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi called on his supporters to march on Tripoli and “purify” the capital of rebels, who he denounced as “rats, crusaders and unbelievers” in a defiant, angry speech that betrayed no hint of despondency. Meanwhile, Libyan fighters battled diehard followers of Gaddafi across Tripoli, racing to find and finish off the fallen strongman and stifle any counter-attack by his family and other loyalists. Closer to home, a Canadian-born man, Nader Benrewin, 24, was shot by a sniper as he stormed Gaddafi’s compound. Benrewin was born in Edmonton but had family living in Tripoli, the Libyan capital. Benrewin had lived and worked in Ottawa for three years before deciding to return to Libya to offer support to rebel forces.
Four governors declared states of emergency Thursday as Hurricane Irene threatened to wreak havoc along the United States’ Eastern Seaboard. Virginia, New Jersey, Maryland and North Carolina all declared states of emergency, allowing states to free funds and prepare resources that may be needed. As of 2 p.m. ET, the Category 3 storm was pounding the Bahamas, with its eye over Abaco Island, the National Hurricane Center said. Maximum sustained winds were at 115 mph as the storm worked its way northwest. A mandatory evacuation order was in effect for residents and visitors in Hyde County, North Carolina, which includes Ocracoke Island, reachable only by boat or private plane, on the Outer Banks.
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Thursday that Israel’s military will continue to hit Palestinians suspected of attacking Israel, amid escalating violence in the region since a deadly terror attack on Israelis a week ago. Twenty-four Palestinians have died in air strikes in the past week, Palestinian medical and security sources say, as Israel has carried out a series of targeted attacks on the alleged leaders of terror groups. Ten have died in the past day. Meanwhile, more than 140 rockets and mortars have been fired into Israeli territory from Gaza since last Thursday, a spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces told CNN Thursday, eight of them in the past 24 hours.
One of the best-known cartoonists in the Arab world has been beaten up by Syrian security forces, activists say. Ali Ferzat, whose work is critical of the government, was forced from his car in Damascus and badly beaten. The attack comes after 11 civilians and eight soldiers were reportedly killed in different incidents across Syria. The UN says more than 2,200 people have been killed as security forces crack down on anti-government protests that began in mid-March. The demonstrators are demanding the removal of President Bashar al-Assad, whose family has been in power for 40 years.
A bomb planted in a child’s tricycle exploded a shop in northwestern Pakistan on Thursday, killing at least eight people and damaging several stores and hotels, police said. The crackdown occurred in the main bazaar in the town of Risalpur in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, said Mohammad Hussain, police chief for surrounding Nowshera district. Shoppers were buying goods for an upcoming Muslim holiday when the bomb went off. At least nine people were wounded, Hussain said. No group claimed responsibility for the attack, but the Pakistani Taliban has carried out many bombings throughout the northwest.
Chile is set for the second day of a 48-hour national strike called by the main trade unions who are demanding a raft of reforms. Wednesday’s stoppage began peacefully but violent clashes erupted after some demonstrators erected burning barricades and threw stones. Officials said 348 people were arrested and dozens injured. The stoppage comes amid ongoing student protests to press for education reform.