“They are African mercenaries bought by Qaddafi. They come from Chad and Nigeria among other places,” Shaban Egale, 50, told AFP, pointing out that “many Libyan soldiers have taken the side of the demonstrators.”
“Those who are shooting are elite soldiers and mercenaries,” insisted Egale, one of around 50 people braving a snowstorm in central Stockholm to protest the violence in Libya during the past week of demonstrations against Colonel Muammar Qaddafi’s four-decade rule.
Following a day of cut communications on Monday, several other Libyan exiles in Sweden said they had received word from their family and friends in Libya this morning that mercenaries were involved in the brutal crackdown on demonstrators.
“I spoke for a few minutes on the phone with my cousin Yacine in Tripoli this morning. He told me that if people went outside, mercenaries shot at them,” says Joe Twaeih, a 37-year-old Libyan refugee who has been living in Stockholm for nine years.
“They are not Libyans. He knows that because he heard the soldiers speaking French together,” he told AFP as the demonstrators shouted “Down with the dictator!” and “Qaddafi, murderer!” at Sergels Torg square in the heart of Stockholm.
Five young Libyans spent the night in the square as the mercury dropped as low as -20 degrees Celsius to protest the ongoing violence in their home country.
“We will stay here until Qaddafi’s leaves, Insha’Allah!” said Esameddan Ayad, a 26-year-old Libyan student who recently arrived in Sweden, wrapped in a thick blanket.