Protesters march in Tripoli

A witness said demonstrators quickly dispersed once a brigade of pro-Gaddafi fighters rushed to the scene.

    A protester sprayed anti-Gaddafi graffiti on a wall in the Tajoura district before the rally was dispersed [Reuters]

    At least 300 people are protesting in the east of the Libyan capital, Tripoli, chanting slogans against their leader Muammar Gaddafi.

    Protesters began the rally in the Tajoura district on Monday after the funeral of a person killed in attacks on demonstrators by pro-Gaddafi militias last week.

    A witness said demonstrators quickly dispersed once a brigade of pro-Gaddafi fighters rushed to the scene.

    Security forces were reportedly firing in the air after several sports utility vehicles pulled into the square where the protest was taking place.

    Armed government loyalists have clamped down on the capital, setting up checkpoints and patrolling streets, after the opposition tried to launch major protests on Friday.

    Those attempted rallies were dispersed by hails of gunfire.

    Opposition controlling the east

    Meanwhile, most of eastern Libya and cities close to Tripoli are in the hands of the opposition.

    Al Jazeera's Hoda Abdel-Hamid, reporting from the eastern city of Benghazi, said there was a clear will among protesters there to head to Tripoli to help the people there fight the regime.

    However, she said such an operation seemed unlikely to happen at this moment.

    "This is a very difficult trip to do," she said.

    Read more of our Libya coverage

    "If they go by road, they have to go through SIrte. That means most probably finding themselves face to face with the elite forces of the country, the paramilitary forces under the command of the sons of Gaddafi.

    "The opposition says it has gotten hold of helicopter gunships and a couple of fighter jets. They were thinking of going by air but then they have the risk of actually being downed." 

    The capital has been quiet since Friday's interrupted protests, especially since foreign journalists invited by Gaddafi's regime to view the situation have arrived.

    Many stores downtown have reopened, and traffic in the streets increased.

    However, there were reports of fuel shortages, as distribution of goods has been disrupted by unrest elsewhere in the country.

    One resident told The Associated Press that the price of rice, a main staple, has gone up 500 per cent, reaching the equivalent of $40 for a five-kilogramme bag.

    Bakeries are limited to selling five loaves of bread per family, and most butcher shops are closed, she said.

    Some schools reopened, but only for a half day and attendance was low.

    "My kids are too afraid to leave home and they even sleep next to me at night"' Sidiq al-Damjah, a father of three, said."I feel like I'm living a nightmare."

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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