The White House is weighing an "appropriate" response to the violence directed at pro-democracy demonstrations in Libya, according to a senior administration official quoted by wire services.
"We are analyzing the speech of Saif al-Islam Kadhafi to see what possibilities it contains for meaningful reform," the official said, according to Agence France-Presse.
Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi's son took to state TV on Sunday night to warn that civil war could break out if protests continue.
"Libya is not Tunisia or Egypt," the younger Gadhafi said of the country's neighbors while warning "the Americans and Europeans are on their way and will occupy your country."
He vowed that his family "will fight to the last minute, until the last bullet." If protests continue, he warned, "forget about democracy, forget about reform ... it will be a fierce civil war."
On Monday, Libyan state TV warned of "rivers of blood" and lawlessness like Somalia.
Over the past several days, hundreds of protesters are feared to have been killed by sniper fire, miltary vehicles, missiles and artillery, and machine-gun fire. Still, protesters have hung in and on Monday claimed control of the city of Benghazi as unrest spread to the capital Tripoli.
President Obama was reportedly briefed on the situation Sunday night by National Security Adviser Tom Donilon.
"We will seek clarification from senior Libyan officials, as we continue
to raise with them the need to avoid violence against peaceful
protesters and respect universal rights," the administration official said.
About 200 people demonstrated outside the White House on Saturday, urging Obama to help end the violence in Libya.
So far, the strongest on-the-record condemnation from the administration has been in a statement from State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley on Sunday.
"The United States is gravely concerned with disturbing reports and images coming out of Libya," State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said in a statement. "We are working to ascertain the facts, but we have received multiple credible reports that hundreds of people have been killed and injured in several days of unrest — and the full extent of the death toll is unknown due to the lack of access of international media and human-rights organizations."
The statement came hours after U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice did not directly answer a question on Sunday morning's "Meet the Press" about whether dictator Moammar Gadhafi is killing protesters.
The State Department also issued a travel warning for Libya on Sunday.
"U.S. citizens outside of Libya are urged to defer non-essential travel to Libya at this time," it states. "The U.S. Department of State strongly urges U.S. citizens to avoid all demonstrations, as even peaceful ones can quickly become unruly and a foreigner could become a target of harassment, or worse."
In recent years, the U.S. and Libya have re-established diplomatic relations in the wake of Libya giving up its nuclear weapons and compensating the victims of Pan Am Flight 103. Tripoli has also been laboring to draw international business to the country. Still, Libya has a dismal human-rights record and no free press.