* District has been flashpoint of anti-Gaddafi protests
* Graffiti mimic slogans in Egypt and Tunisia
(Adds quotes, details)
By Maria Golovnina
TRIPOLI, Feb 28 Security forces fired in the air
as hundreds of demonstrators gathered to protest against Libyan
leader Muammar Gaddafi in a district of the capital Tripoli on
The protest took place in the Tajoura neighbourhood,
flashpoint of anti-Gaddafi protests in eastern Tripoli, where
residents had previously reported clashes between Gaddafi
opponents and forces loyal to him.
About 400 protesters shouted anti-Gaddafi slogans and
displayed the green, black and red flag which has been adopted
as the symbol of rebellion against his four-decade rule.
As the protest unfolded, two sport utility vehicles pulled
into the area where the protest was taking place.
The occupants, wearing green bandanas, the colour of
Libya's national flag, jumped out of their vehicles in a nearby
street and fired into the air.
Three police vans and several pickup trucks full of armed
men were parked at the opposite end of a street leading to the
roundabout where the protest was taking place.
Graffiti on one wall said "Gaddafi game over," mimicking
slogans used in protests that toppled the leaders of Egypt and
A military helicopter was flying overhead and vehicles of
the security forces were seen driving around the area.
Two residents said separately that four protesters had been
killed while attending a similar rally late on Sunday. They said
Gaddafi militiamen arrived in the area in SUVs and opened fire.
"Gaddafi militia were shooting randomly. They arrived in
four cars. Four people were killed. There was a funeral today,"
said a computer engineer who gave his name only as Mohammed.
BUCKETS OF PAINT
Residents said groups of people appeared in the
neighbourhood earlier in the day to paint over anti-Gaddafi
Empty buckets of paint were still scattered around the
roundabout as protesters doggedly sprayed new anti-government
slogans on the freshly painted walls.
The atmosphere was nervous and protesters were stopping cars
driving past to check for any weapons.
In one incident, an argument broke out, prompting one man to
slash the tyres of a car with a knife. They car drove off
swiftly, its flat tyres screeching against the asphalt.
Residents said armed men stormed into a local clinic several
days ago and fired inside it indiscriminately.
"They shot, they shot," said one man, as he pointed at
numerous bullet marks on the walls and windows inside the
deserted clinic. He said no one was hurt in the incident.
Omar, a doctor, said: "They shot inside the clinic. One
bullet passed just above my head." Like other protesters, he
asked not to use his full name for fear of being indentified by
The government denies using deliberate force against
civilians. A government spokesman said on Monday troops might
have fired before but it was because they were not properly
Earlier, Tajoura residents said several people wounded in
recent clashed had disappeared from state hospitals, forcing
them to treat any new wounded people in smaller, locally run
The number of casualties in Tripoli from recent clashes
could not be independently verified.
The protest was still going when a Reuters reporter left the
scene. The reporter was in Tripoli as part of a tour for foreign
media organised by the government.
(Editing by Andrew Dobbie)