(Morning Star) Western nations urged the UN Security Council today to demand an immediate end to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s crackdown on civilian protesters and strongly condemned the violence.

The UN body met behind closed doors to discuss possible council action, demanding an immediate end to the crackdown and calling on all parties to act with restraint and respect human rights and international law.

The council met as the bodies of slain protesters littered the streets of the Libyan capital.

Frightened residents stayed in their homes as government forces sought to crush anti-government demonstrations by shooting anyone outside on sight.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, who spoke to the Libyan leader on Monday, warned that the attacks on protesters were “a serious violation of international humanitarian law.”

President Gaddafi appeared on state TV in the early hours today to show that he was still in charge, brandishing a large umbrella and denying reports that he had left the country.

The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said that at least 250 people have been killed and hundreds more injured in the crackdown on protesters in Libya, though its officials said the true number was not known.

US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called on Mr Gaddafi to “stop this unacceptable bloodshed” and said the world was watching the events “with alarm.”

This article originally appeared in the Morning Star, the daily newspaper of the British left.