Women celebrate fall of Gaddafi in Tripoli

Thousands of women, who have often been absent for much of the fighting, gather in capital to celebrate fall of regime.

    Thousands of women have gathered in Martyrs' square in the Libyan capital of Tripoli to add their voices to the chorus of celebrations marking an end to the rule of Muammar Gaddafi.

    Women have often been publically absent during the revolution, but they used the occasion on Friday evening to take part in what has been called the "million women march".

    Al Jazeera's Anita McNaught, reporting from Tripoli, said: "This is a family night, it is a night for women to come and say thank you to their men for helping liberate their country they tell us."

    McNaught said unlike many celebratory occasions in previous weeks, the gathering was peaceful, with no rifles or guns being fired.

    On Thursday, Gaddafi released a defiant audio message, where he warned: "We will not surrender, we are not women and we are going to keep on fighting."

    In a message broadcast on a Syria-based television channel on Thursday night, the deposed Libyan leader vowed not to surrender, saying he would carry on fighting.

    "Even if you cannot hear my voice, continue the resistance," Gaddafi said.

    He called on NATO and the UN to end their intervention in Libya and said that Libya's tribes would not accept their presence in the country.

    The international community had forced Libya into a civil war, he said. "Imperialism is hated by Libyan people, who can accept it? All people will fight against imperialism," Gaddafi said.

    'Foreign aggression'

    In another message broadcast earlier during the day, Gaddafi urged his supporters to keep up their resistance to the uprising in Libya that has forced him into hiding, the Syria-based Arrai television channel said.

    He asked his supporters to continue what he called "struggle against foreign aggression" and said those against him were divided.

    Gaddafi called on his supporters to set Libya alight, vowed that his backers would not give up, he said in the message.

    "Let there be a long fight and let Libya be engulfed in flames." He said the "balance of power is now levelled as all tribes are now armed".

    Meanwhile, Mustafa Abdel Jalil, the chairman of the National Transitional Council (NTC), announced the council would move to Tripoli next week.  

    Gaddafi was speaking on the 42nd anniversary of the military coup that toppled King Idris and brought him to power in 1969 when he was a 27-year-old army captain.

    Speculation rife

    There have been conflicting reports about Gaddafi's location since his Tripoli compound was overrun on August 23.

    A senior military commander of the Libyan interim leadership said Gaddafi was in a desert town outside Tripoli, along with Saif al-Islam and intelligence chief Abdullah Senussi, planning a fightback.

    All three men are wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged crimes against humanity.

    Abdel Majid Mlegta, co-ordinator of the Tripoli military operations room, told the Reuters news agency "someone we trust" had said Gaddafi had fled to Bani Walid, 150km southeast of the capital.

    He said Ali al-Ahwal, Gaddafi's co-ordinator for tribes, was also in Bani Walid, a stronghold of the powerful Warfalla tribe, Libya's biggest tribe among a population of six million, but many say their loyalty is divided.

    "We are capable of ending the crisis but military action is out of the question right now," Mlegta said.

    "We cannot attack this tribe because many of our brigades in Benghazi and Zintan are from Bani Walid. The sons of Bani Walid hold the key."

    An Algerian newspaper said Gaddafi was in the border town of Ghadamis and had tried to call Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to appeal for refuge.

    Bouteflika would not take the call, even though Algeria gave sanctuary to Gaddafi's wife and three of his children when they crossed the border on Monday.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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