UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay called on Tuesday for an international investigation into Libya's attacks on anti-government protestors, saying they may amount to crimes against humanity.
In a statement, Pillay called for the immediate halt to human rights violations and denounced the reported use of machineguns, snipers and military planes against civilians.
"Widespread and systematic attacks against the civilian population may amount to crimes against humanity," said Pillay, a former United Nations war crimes judge.
Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi vowed defiance in the face of a mounting revolt against his 41-year rule on Tuesday, making a fleeting television appearance to scorn protesters and deny he had fled the country.
Diplomats at Libya's mission to the United Nations sided with the revolt against their country's leader and called on the Libyan army to help overthrow "the tyrant Muammar Gaddafi."
In a statement issued as protests erupted across Libya, the mission's deputy chief and other staff said they were serving the Libyan people, demanded "the removal of the regime immediately" and urged other Libyan embassies to follow suit.
Gaddafi was waging a bloody battle to hang on to power as the revolt against his 41-year rule reached the capital, Tripoli. The Libyan mission statement released in New York said hundreds had died in the first five days of the uprising.
Spokesman Dia al-Hotmani said that at a meeting on Monday at the mission's New York offices, staff "expressed our sense of concern about the genocide going on in Libya."
"We are not seeing any reaction from the international community," he added.
"The tyrant Muammar Gaddafi has asserted clearly, through his sons the level of ignorance he and his children have, and how much he despises Libya and the Libyan people," the mission's Arabic language statement said.
It condemned Gaddafi's use of "African mercenaries" to try to put down the rebellion and said it expected "an unprecedented massacre in Tripoli."
Libya's ambassador to India, who resigned earlier this week, said expected more diplomats to quit if Gaddafi's government continued its crackdown.
"I call on the five permanent members of the [United Nations] Security Council. Now is the time to be fair and honest to protect the Libyan people," Libyan envoy Ali al-Essawi said.
The Libyan embassy in Malaysia, in a statement, condemned what it called the "barbaric, criminal massacre" of protesters
The statement by the Libyan mission to the United Nations called on "the officers and soldiers of the Libyan army wherever they are and whatever their rank is ... to organize themselves and move towards Tripoli and cut the snake's head."
It appealed to the United Nations to impose a no-fly zone over Libyan cities to prevent mercenaries and weapons being shipped in.
It also urged guards at Libya's oil installations to protect them from any sabotage "by the coward tyrant," and urged countries to prevent Gaddafi from fleeing there and to be on the lookout for any money smuggling.For all the latest business news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.
Subscribe to Arabian Business' newsletter to receive the latest breaking news and business stories in Dubai,the UAE and the GCC straight to your inbox.