European Union foreign ministers were expected to condemn the violence used by security forces against anti-government protesters in Libya, according to the draft of a joint statement to be agreed at their meeting later on Monday, Reuters reported.

A draft statement made available to the news agency read: "The Council condemns the ongoing repression against peaceful demonstrators in Libya and deplores the violence and the death of civilians."

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"Freedom of expression and the right to assemble peacefully are fundamental rights of every human being which must be respected and protected," the statement continued.

The minister said they will prepare for the evacuation of Europeans from Libya, with several ministers also expressing concerns about a possible massive increase in the flow of illegal migrants from North Africa in the wake of the unrest.

Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini called for a "Marshall Plan" for affected Mediterranean countries to stimulate their economies and provide job opportunities for young people.

In Libya, a central government building in Tripoli was set on fire, London based Arabic speaking paper Al Arabiya reported Monday.

An additional report on Monday suggested that a senior Libyan military official has been put under house arrest under the direct order of the ruler Moammar Gadhafi.

According to the report by London based paper Arabic language paper Al-Sharq, the senior army man was put under house arrest after he refused to obey an order to beat demonstrators.

Snipers open fire on protesters

Witnesses said Monday that Libyan protesters and security forces battled for control of Tripoli's city center overnight, with snipers opening fire and Moammar Gadhafi supporters shooting from speeding vehicles.

The protests appear to be the heaviest in Libya's capital after days of deadly clashes in eastern cities.

Three witnesses said protesters Sunday night moved into Tripoli's central Green Square and nearby squares. Plainclothes security forces and militiamen attacked in clashes that lasted until dawn.

One witness said snipers opened fire from rooftops, while two others said gunmen in vehicles with photos of Gadhafi sped through, opening fire and running people over. The witnesses reported seeing casualties, but the number could not be confirmed.

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