Libya and Bahrain

23 February 2011

PROTESTS spread to the Libyan capital of Tripoli yesterday where anti-government protesters reportedly ransacked the state television headquarters and set the central government building and a police station on fire.

Violent clashes have also been seen in Benghazi and several other towns. Medical officials, human rights groups and exiled dissidents say hundreds of people have been killed since the unrest began about a week ago. In Benghazi, the eastern Libyan city where the protests started, witnesses say anti-government forces have taken control and some in the security services are believed to have switched sides.

Afriqiyah Airways has confirmed that it has cancelled flight 8U789 today (February 22) from Johannesburg to Tripoli as a result of political unrest in Libya.

The airline's representative in South Africa, Aviareps, said the reason for the cancellation was due to a shut down in communication with airline officials in the city.

The violence has prompted various countries to evacuate all non-emergency personnel. Exiled Libyans have also taken part in demonstrations in Manchester and London.

Meanwhile, Bahrain has been forced to cancel next month's Formula One grand prix, which was due to be held on March 13. Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa - the owner of the F1 contract - said the kingdom must "focus on immediate issues of national interest and leave the hosting of Bahrain's Formula One race to a later date".

Hundreds of demonstrators continue to gather at the Pearl roundabout in Manama, which has been the focal point of the unrest that continued for the ninth day. The monument has slowly turned into a tent city with makeshift kitchens serving meals. The anti-government protesters have said their demands must be met before they enter into talks with the Gulf state's monarchy.

Protesters are calling for the government to resign, political prisoners to be released, the deaths of protesters investigated and an end to discrimination against Shiite Muslims by the ruling Sunni Muslim minority. At least eight people have been killed and hundreds injured in the continued clashes.

Please note that we are unable to provide cover to the above-mentioned countries. Please contact Oojah should you be travelling to a country where there has been a media warning with regards to demonstrations, protests, unrest, etc. to establish whether we can provide cover.