Gaddafi vows he will never leave

2011-07-16 22:08
Tripoli - Embattled Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi said on Saturday he would never leave the land of his ancestors, following fresh international calls for him to go, and as rebels pressed their campaign to overthrow him.

"They are asking me to leave. That's a laugh. I will never leave the land of my ancestors or the people who have sacrificed themselves for me," he said in a loudspeaker address to thousands of people in Zawiyah, some 50km west of Tripoli.

"I'm ready to sacrifice myself for my people, and I will never quit this land sprinkled with the blood of my ancestors who fought Italian and British colonialists," he said of the five-month-long revolt against his rule.

Western and regional powers met in Istanbul on Friday for the fourth gathering of the Libya contact group, which saw a fresh call on Gaddafi to go after more than four decades in power.

"These rats have taken our people hostage in Benghazi, Misrata and the western mountains, using them as human shields," Gaddafi said of insurgents in the rebel capital in the east and port city in the west.

"Five million armed Libyans will march on them and liberate the occupied towns as soon as the order is given," he added.

Advance on Brega

In the east, rebels said their steady advance on the key oil hub of Brega was slowed on Saturday by the discovery of defensive trenches around the city that had been filled with flammable chemicals by retreating Gaddafi troops.

After a small rebel reconnaissance unit from the north punched through to Brega late on Friday before falling back, a rebel commander said troops were now moving "slowly but surely" towards it from the east and south as well.

"We are advancing and we are very close to Brega," said Mustafa al-Sagezli, a member of the rebel's revolutionary military council, adding that Gaddafi's troops had fallen back to positions inside the town.

But the commander said landmines and a series of booby-trapped trenches had forced them to slow the attack.

"We know Gaddafi's forces have installed a lot of mines. They have even dug holes and trenches (filled) with some chemical liquids and oil to fire them when our forces enter Brega," he said.

It was not clear what kind of chemicals were being used, but Brega is home to a large petrochemical facility that produces a range of oil by-products.


Read more on:    muammar ­gaddafi  |  libya  |  libya protests  |  north africa  |  uprisings
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