The son of Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi has vowed a "fierce" civil war if protesters don't stand down in the nation's mounting violence. Saif al-Islam Gadhafi promised in a speech today on state TV that significant democratic reforms would be instituted—but only if unrest stops. If current protests continue "forget about democracy, forget about reform," declared the heir apparent. "We will fight until the last man, until the last woman, until the last bullet. This is national treason." He blamed the protests on radicals, drunks, criminals, and Libyans living abroad, but acknowledged some "mistakes" by security forces, who have shot and beaten to death some 219 protesters, reports the Telegraph.
"We are in the midst of a massacre here," said one witness after snipers picked off protesters, and thugs with hammers and swords attacked families as the unrest spread from Benghazi to Tripoli yesterday. But protesters didn't appear to be backing down. “The state has disappeared from the streets,” a writer living in Tripoli told the New York Times. “The people, the youth, have practically taken over.” Libyan Muslim leaders have appealed to security forces to stop killing civilians in the largest challenge to date of the world's longest-serving ruler.