) -- President Barack Obama signed an executive order Friday night imposing a range of sanctions on Libya in an effort to deter the country's embattled leader Col. Moammar Gadhafi from using violence against protesters.

"The Libyan government's continued violation of human rights, brutalization of its people, and outrageous threats have rightly drawn the strong and broad condemnation of the international community," Obama was quoted as saying

on the White House's blog


The president's statement continued: "By any measure,

Moammar Gadhafi's government has violated international norms and common decency and must be held accountable. These sanctions therefore target the

Gadhafi government, while protecting the assets that belong to the people of Libya."


executive order

condemns Gadhafi's actions and freezes financial assets, declaring that the deterioration of the situation in Libya constitutes "an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States" and declaring a national emergency to deal with that threat.

Earlier on Friday, the Obama administration announced the closure of the U.S. embassy in Tripoli and said Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton would be traveling to Geneva, Switzerland on Monday to discuss the situation in Libya with the Human Rights Council.

Libya has teetered on the edge of civil war for days now with a speech by Gadhafi on Tuesday urging his supporters to attack protesters serving as a flashpoint for the escalating violence. The turmoil in the region caused oil prices to spike this week and led to the first meaningful pullback in the U.S. equity markets since the start of 2011.

Qadhafi has been quoted as saying he will fight to the "last drop of blood" and that he will

turn Libya into "a hell" rather than cede power

. The uprisings in Libya follow similar protests that led to regime changes in Egypt and Tunisia in the past few weeks. Gadhafi has been in power for more than 40 years.


Written by Michael Baron in New York.

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