Gaddafi vows to fight to end amid NATO raids

Libyan leader says he will not surrender or kneel to enemies as NATO intensifies air strikes in Tripoli.

    Muammar Gaddafi, the Libyan leader, has vowed to fight to the end in a speech broadcast live on state television, amid one of the fiercest NATO air strikes on Tripoli.

    "We only have one choice: we will stay in our land dead or alive," he said in the audio address on Tuesday, calling on his supporters to flock to his Bab al-Aziziya compound in the capital.

    "We will not kneel! We will not surrender."

    "We are stronger than your missiles, stronger than your planes and the voice of the Libyan people is louder than explosions," he said.

    Gaddafi said he was ready to unleash between 250,000 to 500,000 armed Libyans to swarm across the country to cleanse it from "armed gangs", a reference to the rebels controlling parts of the North African country.

    "Whether we are martyred, killed or commit suicide, we care about our duty towards history," Gaddafi said, demanding to know why the bombardment was continuing.

    Gaddafi was last seen on state television on May 30 in footage of him meeting Jacob Zuma, the South African president.

    NATO intensifies raids

    Loud explosions rocked Tripoli early on Wednesday as NATO kept up its heaviest bombing of the the capital since air strikes began in March.

    Warplanes hit the city several times an hour overnight after day-long raids that shook the ground and sent thundering sound waves across the capital on Tuesday.

    Ambulances and blaring sirens could be heard racing through the city. Moussa Ibrahim, the Libyan government spokesman, said 31 people had been killed in 60 strikes. His account could not be verified.

    The strikes hit the Popular Guard compound and the Revolutionary Guard compound, a Libyan official told reporters in the capital.

    A British defence official said several operations carried out by fighter aircraft had targeted Gaddafi's secret
    police headquarters and a military installation on Tripoli's southwestern outskirts.

    NATO officials have warned for days that they were increasing the scope and intensity of their two-month campaign to oust Gaddafi after more than 40 years in power.

    The alliance is assisting a four-month old rebel offensive that has seized large swathes of eastern Libya and pockets in the regime's stronghold in the west.

    On Monday, NATO air raids on the capital targeted the communications of the battered government, hitting offices of the state broadcaster and military intelligence headquarters, officials said.

    Anders Fogh Rasmussen, NATO's secretary-general, said the alliance had damaged or destroyed 1,800 military targets in Libya so far.

    Diplomatic efforts

    Meanwhile, in Benghazi, a Russian delegation met the rebel's National Transitional Council (NTC), which controls the city and eastern Libya.

    Mikhail Margelov, special representative for Africa, said that Gaddafi had lost his legitimacy but that NATO airstrikes were not a solution to the stalemate in Libya.

    "Russia is ready to help now; Russia is ready to help politically, economically and in other possible ways," Margelov said. 

    "We are as a prominent member of the National Security Council, we are, as a member of G8, ready to carry our part of responsibility for the future of these extremely important Arab and African nations."

    Despite the opposition forces making major advances in the country's east, Russia, which has extensive business ties with Gaddafi's regime, is still unwilling to drop the possibility of a political solution.

    Also on Tuesday, Gaddafi dispatched Abdul-Ati al-Obeidi, his foreign minister, to Beijing for talks, in an apparent effort to restore some of the Libyan government's influence.

    China has pointedly avoided joining international calls for Gaddafi to step down, but did not exercise its veto power at the UN Security Council when a resolution to intervene in Libya was passed.

    Hong Lei, the Chinese foreign ministry's spokesman, told reporters at a regular briefing that talks with al-Obeidi would focus on the need for a political solution to the Libyan crisis.

    But in a break from its earlier stands, China on Friday said it was reaching out for the first time to the Libyan rebel council, with the country's ambassador to Qatar meeting with the head NTC in Doha, the Qatari capital.

    China also abstained in the UN Security Council vote authorising the use of force against the Libyan government and has repeatedly criticised the NATO bombing campaign.

    The latest developments follow recent gains made by rebels seeking to end Gaddafi's more than four-decades rule.

    Reports on Monday said the rebels had entered the northwestern town of Yafran, previously held by government forces.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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