Mercenaries Stream Toward Tripoli as Qaddafi Digs In

Thousands of African mercenaries and militiamen were massing on roads heading toward Tripoli on Wednesday to reinforce the stronghold of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi as rebels protesting his 40-year rule claimed to have taken control of cities closer to the capital, witnesses said.

The week-old uprising that has swept Libya now appears headed for a decisive stage, with Colonel Qaddafi fortifying his bastion in Tripoli and opponents in the capital saying they were making plans for their first coordinated protest.

“A message comes to every mobile phone about a general protest on Friday in Tripoli,” one resident there said, adding that Colonel Qaddafi’s menacing speech to the country on Tuesday had increased their determination “100 percent.”

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