Gaddafi slams foreign channels as `dogs` in TV appearance
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Last Updated: Tuesday, February 22, 2011, 12:30
  
Cairo: Facing an unprecedented revolt against his 41-year rule, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi Tuesday appeared on state television dismissing reports that he had fled the country, calling foreign news channels "dogs".

"I am in Tripoli and not in Venezuela. Do not believe these channels - they are dogs," he told Libyan TV, which said he was speaking outside his house.

68-year-old Gaddafi, who was sitting on the passenger seat of an old white ban and holding an umbrella to shield himself from rain, appeared for less than a minute on the state television shortly after 0200 am local time (0530 HRS IST).

The statement of Gaddafi, who is battling an Egypt-like crisis, came amid fresh clashes between security forces and protesters. According to human rights groups, over 300 people have been killed in the revolt which entered the eighth day today.

Al-Jazeera said Libyan Justice Minister Mustapha Abdul Jalil had resigned in protest against the "excessive use of violence" against demonstrators and joined the agitation.

In Washington, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sent out a tough message to the Libyan leader, warning against the use of lethal force on peaceful demonstrators.

"The government of Libya has a responsibility to respect the universal rights of the people, including the right to free expression and assembly. Now is the time to stop this unacceptable bloodshed," Clinton said in a statement.

The anti-government protests reached the capital Tripoli yesterday for the first time after days of violent unrest in the eastern city of Benghazi, but Gaddafi's son pledged to fight the revolt to the "last man standing", warning protesters that Libya was neither Tunisia nor Egypt.

A wave of anti-regime protests has gripped the Arab world, but the suppression is turning out to be the most brutal in Libya.

As people in the capital joined the protests, the Libyan leader's son Saif al-Islam Gaddafi appeared on television and said the regime will not back out even to the last bullet.

"We will keep fighting until the last man standing, even to the last woman standing ... we will not leave Libya to the Italians or the Turks," he said.

The newly set up high-power General Committee for Defence said its forces would cleanse Libya of anti-government elements.

A statement described the protesters as "terrorist gangs made up mostly of misguided youths", who had been exploited and fed "hallucinogenic pills" by people following foreign agendas.

Close on the heels of Libya's envoys in Delhi and Dhaka quitting to protest the use of force against the demonstrators, the country's top diplomat in the US said he could no longer support Gaddafi.

Libya's envoy to the Arab League, Abdel Moneim al-Honi, also announced that he was joining the revolution.

The country's diplomats at the United Nations called for international intervention to stop the government's violent action against demonstrations in their homeland.

Tripoli's airport was packed with passengers trying to leave the country. Hundreds of people of different nationalities, including Europeans, had gathered there with their families.

Armed security personnel patrolled Tripoli streets, with war planes flying over the city.

Mobile phone networks were down and even landlines were affected.

Security forces yesterday used live ammunition, which witnesses described as "small bombs", on protesters in Tripoli, 'The New York Times' reported.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he was "outraged" by reports that Libyan forces had fired on protesters from war planes and helicopters, and demanded that the civilian population be protected under any circumstances.

He urged all parties to exercise restraint and called on the authorities to engage in broad-based dialogue to address "legitimate concerns of the population."

The UN leader had a 40-minute telephone conversation with Gaddafi earlier to press for an end to violence.

PTI


First Published: Tuesday, February 22, 2011, 12:30


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