Libyans taste freedom, hope for Qaddafi ouster

BENGHAZI, Libya - In the biggest city in eastern Libya or, as the people here call it, Free Libya, Friday was a day of prayer and sorrow, CBS News correspondent Mandy Clark reports.

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Opposition forces are now said to control at least two of Libya's major oil ports and all the big cities in the east, places like Tobruk and Derna.

In Benghazi, the streets that just days ago were a battleground were on Friday filled with coffins as residents counted the high cost of freedom. Up to 250 people died fighting troops loyal to the nation's dictator, Muammar al Qaddafi.

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Every town in eastern Libya was filled with protesters, people hoping that momentum is on their side and that Qaddafi will be gone in days if not hours.

In Derna, the crowd greeted defecting military officers as heroes. One street away was a sight that would have been unthinkable just days ago. Women in the hundreds gathered, calling for Qaddafi to step down. They took over a main street.

Previously, female protesters have not been seen. But on Friday, a community leader had the microphone, and once they started talking it seemed that every woman had a story to tell.

One woman held a picture of her son killed in the protests in Benghazi.

"We are ready to death," another woman said through a translator. "There is no way, either death or either victory."

"The people say welcome freedom and free at last Libyans," a third woman said through a translator.

Back in Benghazi, people lined up to get into an underground bunker built for Qaddafi and expressed amazement that they are already living in a part of Libya where the once-feared leader appears to be history.

  • Mandy Clark

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