Libya: Celebrations in opposition-controlled east

Media caption,
Jon Leyne reports from the Libya-Egypt border which appears free of Gaddafi control

The BBC's Jon Leyne is one of the first foreign journalists to enter Libya since the anti-government protests erupted last week. He reports from the east of the country, where the military has largely abandoned Col Muammar Gaddafi.

We arrived in Libya through a border post now completely controlled by the opposition.

There were delirious celebrations there over the fact that they had vanquished Col Gaddafi's forces and Col Gaddafi's government.

There are no government officials at the border, the minimum of formalities. They are flying a new flag; there is a picture of Muammar Gaddafi crossed out.

Gunfire and attacks

Everyone here has an assortment of uniforms. Lots of people have got hold of a cap of some kind, but there are no forces loyal to Col Gaddafi anywhere in the area.

As you drive away from the border, there are a series of checkpoints. There are actually some army and police officers there - they have all defected to the opposition. Locals are even acting as traffic police.

We are told that the local garrison defected on the very first day of the protests, and government resistance collapsed very quickly.

Life is really quite normal. There is electricity and the phones are working, to a degree.

On the Egyptian side of the border, there are thousands and thousands of Egyptian workers fleeing the conflict, equally deliriously happy to have got back home.

They tell stories of gunfire, how they were confined to their homes and how some Egyptian workers were attacked by Gaddafi loyalists.

But here in eastern Libya, the army is now deployed on the side of the people to protect them against any possible attacks by Col Gaddafi's forces.