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16.02.2012 Libya

Benghazi begins celebrating Libya revolution day

Libyan youth celebrate in the eastern city of Benghazi.  By Gianluigi Guercia (AFP)
LISTEN FEB 16, 2012
Libyan youth celebrate in the eastern city of Benghazi. By Gianluigi Guercia (AFP)

BENGHAZI, Libya (AFP) - Benghazi residents began celebrating Friday's first anniversary of the revolt which ousted Moamer Kadhafi, by letting off firecrackers and and honking their car horns late on Thursday.

Hundreds of men, women and children gathered near the landmark Tahrir (Liberation) Square to chant anti-Kadhafi slogans as loudspeakers played revolutionary songs.

"Curly, we're sorry!" shouted children in a sarcastic reference to Kadhafi as cars drove from the square to the city's main military base which was overrun by protesters in the initial days of the uprising last February.

Libya is marking the first anniversary of the anti-Kadhafi revolution on February 17, the day the first major demonstration against the slain dictator erupted in the eastern city last year.

Flashing "V for victory" signs, the jubilant crowds drove in a procession of vehicles through the city's main avenues.

"I feel blessed. Libya is free," said Yusri Warfelli, a 22-year-old Benghazi resident in a black Mercedes sports car.

On Wednesday a similar celebration was held by the first group of protesters who demonstrated against the ousted regime last February 15.

That crowd was led by the relatives of the victims of the notorious Abu Salim prison massacre of 1996 in Tripoli.

A small rally last February 15 by relatives of the 1996 Abu Salim massacre to secure the release of their lawyer, Fethi Tarbel -- now Libya's sports minister -- turned into a massive anti-Kadhafi uprising from February 17.

Libyans consider February 17 as the actual day when the anti-Kadhafi uprising first erupted.

The bloody uprising rapidly spread across the north African country and ended with the killing of Kadhafi at his hometown in Sirte on October 20.

Thousands of people were killed and wounded in the raging conflict, with men both young and old taking up arms to fight Kadhafi's forces.

There are no state-sponsored celebrations for Friday's first anniversary, but local councils are holding commemorations to mark the event.

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