Obama: Libya's 'Outrageous' Violence Must Stop
Italy's foreign minister puts death toll at 1,000
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 23, 2011 4:46 PM CST
Libyan protesters shout slogans against leader Moammar Gadhafi during a demonstration in Tobruk, Libya, Wednesday.   (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
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(Newser) – President Obama made his first public statement on Libya's unrest this afternoon, calling the violence "outrageous and unacceptable" and warning Moammar Gadhafi that the US was considering a "full range of options," reports AP. He said Hillary Clinton would head to Geneva to consult other nations. Gadhafi, meanwhile, clung to power, with fears of a climactic showdown looming in Tripoli, notes the New York Times. The confirmed death toll is 300, but Italy's foreign minister says the real figure is closer to 1,000.

In one of the day's most tangible signs of Gadhafi's weakening grip on power, two Libyan air force pilots escaped their plane via parachute and allowed it to crash in the desert rather than following orders to bomb protesters, notes NPR. Obama spoke after hundreds of Americans began leaving Tripoli via ferry, but thousands remain, says the Washington Post.