TRIPOLI — The son of Libya's strongman Moamer Kadhafi warned Monday the country would be destroyed by civil war if protests end his father's rule, in a speech broadcast as bursts of gunfire broke out in Tripoli.
Saif al-Islam Kadhafi offered reforms to end the violent uprising gripping the oil-rich country, but he warned the protests were a foreign plot and would be crushed in a "bloodbath" if the government's offer was rejected.
The turbulence gripping the Arab world following the revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia also spread to Morocco, where thousands rallied for change across the country.
Bahrain's Sunni Muslim ruling family came under increased pressure to open meaningful negotiations with the Shiite-led opposition, as protesters refused to be bowed and camped out in the capital Manama's Pearl Square.
And Yemeni police shot dead a protester and wounded four others in the southern city of Aden on Monday, witnesses and medics said, after thousands demonstrated in the capital Sanaa urging President Ali Abdullah Saleh to quit.
The deadliest confrontations were in Libya, where Human Rights Watch said it feared a catastrophe with at least 233 people dead after a brutal government crackdown on demonstrators demanding an end to Kadhafi's 41-year iron rule.
Intense gunfire was heard in the heart of Tripoli and several quarters of the city Monday for the first time since the uprising began last week, but sounds of celebration also rang out to produce a confused picture.
"Libya is at a crossroads. If we do not agree today on reforms, we will not be mourning 84 people, but thousands of deaths, and rivers of blood will run through Libya," Kadhafi's son said in a speech that gave a lower death toll.
But Saif al-Islam Kadhafi's threats betrayed a note of desperation, and he suggested that the eastern city of Benghazi, the epicentre of the unprecedented protests, was now out of government control.
"At this moment there are tanks being driven by civilians in Benghazi," he said, dismissing the uprising as a foreign plot aimed at installing Islamist rule and insisting it would be ruthlessly crushed.
"We will take up arms... we will fight to the last bullet," he said. "If everybody is armed, it is civil war, we will kill each other."
But despite the tough talk and finger-wagging, Kadhafi also made some concessions -- pledging a new constitution and new liberal laws.
Libya's unrest has spread from Benghazi, where demonstrations began on Tuesday, to the Mediterranean town of Misrata, just 200 kilometres (120 miles) from Tripoli.
Witnesses described security forces, backed by "African mercenaries", firing into crowds "without discrimination", and a lawyer told AFP at least 200 people had been killed in the five days of unrest.
"The United States is gravely concerned with disturbing reports and images coming out of Libya," said State Department spokesman Philip Crowley, speaking of "multiple credible reports that hundreds of people have been killed".
France, Germany and the European Union weighed in with calls for the violence to stop immediately and Libya's permanent representative to the Arab League, Abdel Moneim al-Honi, said he was quitting to "join the revolution".
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for "the non-use of force and respect for basic freedoms" in restive North African and Middle Eastern countries.
Kadhafi, 68, who renounced terrorism and declared in 2003 that he was giving up the pursuit of weapons of mass destruction to try to improve ties with the West, has made no public comment since the deadly protests erupted.
The growing turmoil in Libya came as protesters set up more tents in the main square in Bahrain's capital, increasing the pressure on the Bahraini royal family to offer some real reforms.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged restraint and reform in Washington's tiny Shiite-majority Gulf ally, where the US Fifth Fleet is based, calling violence against anti-regime protesters "absolutely unacceptable."
"Bahrain had started on some reform and we want to see them get back to that as quickly as possible," she told ABC's "This Week" programme.
Morocco became the latest in a string of Arab nations rocked by protest, as thousands gathered in several cities demanding political reform and limits on the powers of King Mohammed VI.
Between 3,000 and 4,000 people demonstrated in the capital Rabat, shouting: "The people want change" and denouncing corruption. In Casablanca, the North African nation's biggest city, more than 4,000 people protested.
A massive police deployment in Tehran prevented large-scale protests from erupting on Sunday although Iranian opposition websites reported stray clashes.
Tehran was the epicentre of deadly anti-government protests in 2009 after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's disputed re-election, and also saw clashes on Monday during a demonstration in which two people were killed.
Back where it all started, in Tunisia, the interim government on Sunday asked Saudi Arabia to extradite deposed strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali as it faced a second day of protests demanding its own resignation.
The Philippines, heavily reliant on remittances from its domestic workers living abroad, urged its nearly 60,000 citizens in Bahrain, Libya and Yemen to sit tight and be vigilant.
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