There are no official figures for the number of people killed since Libyans spilled out into the streets of the eastern city of Benghazi on February 17 to call for Muammar Qaddafi's ouster, though both sides claim that the six-month-old conflict has cost thousands of lives. On Friday, opposition leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil stated the number of people killed during the civil war "exceeded 20,000." On Tuesday, Colonel Hisham Buhagiar, a rebel military commander Colonel Hisham Buhagiar, gave Reuters a significantly higher number: 50,000, or 0.8 percent of Libya's 6.5 million people.
Buhagiar did not clarify whether he was counting both pro- and anti-Qaddafi forces in his estimate, though he did say his figure included those killed on the battlefield and those who have gone missing over the past six months, including people who haven't been located after the opposition liberated several prisons. As one point of reference, over 600,000 people--or two percent of the U.S. population at the time--died in the Civil War. But the American conflict lasted for four years, whereas the Libyan civil war has raged for only six months.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.