A bloody crackdown against demonstrators will likely cost the Libyan government plenty as officials begin withdrawing support, while soldiers increasingly defect in favor of the protesters in the first signs that dictator Moammar Gaddafi's regime may be crumbling.

Several Libyan diplomats in various countries have severed relations with the 68-year-old leader, who assumed power in a 1969 military coup. After the Libyan Ambassador to India Ali al-Essawi resigned Monday citing unacceptable violence against protesters, the Ambassador to the United States, Ali Aujali told an international news agency, Associated Press (AP), that Gaddafi should step down.

Meanwhile, Libyan embassies in Malaysia and Australia have also declared that they will no longer represent the leader. Accusing Gaddafi of killing his own people, Ibrahim Dabbashi, Libya's deputy ambassador to the United Nations, has sought international intervention.

Several media reports also suggest that Gaddafi is losing the support of his soldiers. Quoting two prominent residents of Benghazi, The Jerusalem Post reported that Libyan soldiers were defecting to the side of the protesters.

Members of a Libyan army unit told Benghazi residents that they had defected and liberated the city from pro-Gaddafi forces on Sunday, said the report.

Separately, tens of thousands of foreigners are seeking to flee Libya.

Many countries and foreign oil companies are evacuating their people.

The interim government of Egypt has beefed up its military presence at the border and established field hospitals for its returning citizens. About 10,000 Egyptians are reportedly seeking to return to their native country. There are an estimated 1.5-million Egyptians in Libya.

UN human rights chief Navi Pillay said attacks on Libyan civilians might be considered as “crimes against humanity.”

Pillay condemned the callousness with which Libyan authorities and their hired guns are reportedly shooting live rounds of ammunition at peaceful protesters.

The UN Security Council will meet in closed session to discuss Libya later today.

Tripoli is reportedly quiet, but tense with a heavy police presence with many stores closed, after a night of violence.