Violence in Libya escalated over the weekend as the protests sweeping the Middle East and North Africa continued to spread, reaching Morocco for the first time.

In cities throughout eastern Libya, clashes between protesters and security forces snowballed on Sunday, as the country’s leader, Moammar Gadhafi, struggled to crush an uprising aimed at ending his 42-year rule.

Human Rights Watch said it had confirmed 173 deaths in protests in the country, doubling the toll from Saturday. But the group and doctors in Benghazi, Libya’s second city, said they estimated the final death toll would be significantly higher.

In Morocco, thousands of protesters took the streets on Sunday to demand changes to the North African nation’s constitution, defying predictions that the thousand-year-old monarchy would prove an exception to the calls for greater democracy that are sweeping the region.

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