TRIPOLI, Libya — Residents in the Libyan capital said the embattled regime of Muammar Gaddafi is arming civilian supporters to set up checkpoints and quash dissent.
A popular uprising throughout the country has posed the biggest challenge Gaddafi has faced in his 42-year rule. He has maintained control in the capital by using violence on protesters, though rebels have seized control of about half of Libya's coastline.
Pro-Gaddafi forces opened fire Friday on demonstrations after Muslims prayers, and Gaddafi told supporters he would "open the arms depot so all Libyans and tribes become armed."
Residents contacted by phone from Cairo on Saturday reported trucks of pro-regime civilians patrolling the streets. They spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution.