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Last Updated: Saturday, 18 February 2006, 16:15 GMT
Libya suspends minister over riot
Car burning near Italian consulate
The consulate is the first Italian interest to be targeted
Libya has suspended its interior minister following protests outside an Italian consulate which led to the deaths of at least 10 people.

The parliamentary secretariat said in a statement that Nasr al-Mabrouk would be referred for investigation in to the clashes between police and protesters.

Other officials connected to the riots have also been suspended and referred for investigation, the statement added.

The Italian minister whose remarks apparently sparked the rally has quit.

Reform Minister Roberto Calderoli was under pressure to resign after he wore a T-shirt decorated with the cartoons satirising the Prophet Muhammad.

The Italian consulate in the Libyan port city of Benghazi was set alight and pelted with stones by hundreds of demonstrators who surrounded it on Friday.

'Martyr sons'

Police reportedly tried to hold them back by firing bullets and using teargas.

30 Sept 2005: Danish paper publishes cartoons
20 Oct: Muslim ambassadors complain to Danish PM
10 Jan 2006: Norwegian publication reprints cartoons
26 Jan: Saudi Arabia recalls its ambassador
31 Jan: Danish paper apologises
1 Feb: Papers in France, Germany, Italy and Spain reprint cartoons
4-5 Feb: Danish embassies in Damascus and Beirut attacked
6-12 Feb: Twelve killed in Afghanistan as security forces try to suppress protests
13-17 Feb: Violent protests break out across Pakistan
17 Feb: Ten killed in Libya as protestors target the Italian consulate in Benghazi

"We condemn the excessive use of force and the inappropriate way that went beyond the limits of carrying out the duties of the police," the Libyan parliamentary secretariat's statement said.

"Those who have a relation to the incident and are responsible for security in Benghazi have been suspended and referred to investigations".

It declared Sunday a day of mourning for "our martyr sons".

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi spoke by telephone on Saturday and agreed the violence would have no "negative repercussion" for bilateral relations, Mr Berlusconi's office said.

'Sense of responsibility'

There have been worldwide protests since the publication of the cartoons satirising the Prophet Muhammad in Denmark's Jyllands-Posten newspaper last September.

Islam bans any depiction of Muhammad or Allah.

Mr Calderoli, a member of the anti-immigrant Northern League party, said earlier in the week he was distributing T-shirts decorated with the controversial cartoons.

It was "time to put an end to this story that we need to dialogue with these people," he said in an interview.

He said on Saturday he had decided to resign "out of a sense of responsibility" and not because it had been demanded by the government and the opposition.

Protesters in Libya set fire to the Italian consulate


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