First Western City Falls to Libyan Protesters More than 1,000 believed dead By Kevin Spak, Newser Staff Posted Feb 23, 2011 7:56 AM CST 1 comment Comments In this image taken from TV showing a crowd of anti-government demonstrators in Tobruk, Libya, on Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2011. (AP Photo/APTN) (Newser) – Libyan opposition forces seized control of Misurata today, raising flags that predate Moammar Gadhafi’s reign in celebration. It’s the first city in the western part of the country to fall, the Wall Street Journal reports; much of the East is already under protester control. Those flags were also raised in Zawiyah, on the outskirts of Tripoli. But inside Tripoli, bullets were flying as forces loyal to Gadhafi unleashed heavy gunfire on protesters. Italy's foreign minister called reports of more than 1,000 casualties so far "credible." Other developments in the crisis include: France is urging European nations to sever all economic ties with the nation, according to the Telegraph. Countries around the world are evacuating their nationals from Libya. The US has chartered a ferry, because Libyan authorities won’t let its planes land in Tripoli, CNN reports. The unrest has sent financial markets into turmoil around the world; in the US, the Dow fell 1.4% yesterday, and oil shot up 8.5% to $93.57 a barrel, according to the Wall Street Journal. Libya’s top policeman, a longtime Gadhafi loyalist, defected yesterday. Another defector, former Interior Minister Abdul Fattah Younis, has been kidnapped by “gangs” in the opposition-controlled city of Benghazi—at least according to the state-run media. Earlier in the day he’d given interviews to CNN and al-Jazeera calling for all the armed forces to defect.