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Gaddafi calls foreign news channels 'dogs'

News18test sharma |

Updated: February 22, 2011, 6:11 PM IST
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Gaddafi calls foreign news channels 'dogs'
According to human rights groups, over 300 people have been killed in the revolt.

Cairo: A defiant Moammar Gaddafi on Tuesday made a fleeting appearance on state TV to show that he was still at the helm in Libya, calling foreign news channels "dogs" for claiming that he had fled to Venezuela, amid global outrage over use of force to crush an unprecedented revolt against his 41-year rule.

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

Gaddafi, 68, who was sitting on the passenger seat of an old, white van and holding up an umbrella to shield himself from rain, appeared for just 22 seconds on the state television shortly after 2:00 am local time (0530 hrs IST).

"Were it not for the rain, I would have addressed the young people at Green Square and spent the night with them to prove I am still in Tripoli and not in Venezuela," Gaddafi said, terming as "malicious" reports that he had fled the
country.

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 on Tuesday.

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.

Witnesses in Tripoli told the channel that fighter jets had bombed portions of the city in fresh attacks last night.

Helicopter gunships were also used, they said, to fire on the streets in order to scare demonstrators away. Several witnesses said that "mercenaries" were firing on civilians in the city.

At least 61 people were killed in the capital city on Monday, witnesses told Al-Jazeera. Residents of the Tajura neighbourhood, east of Tripoli, said that bodies were still lying on the streets.

State media was mobilised to forcefully deny the reports of "massacres" in several cities.

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 on Monday 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.

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.

Amid escalating violence, several European countries were sending planes to evacuate their citizens from Libya.

Italy, Greece and the Netherlands were sending transport planes to Libya to get their citizens out. Austria and Portugal had already done so, BBC said, adding UK nationals had been told to take commercial flights from Tripoli.

International oil firms, many of them engaged in major energy projects in Libya, were also evacuating expatriate staff, it said.

Tripoli's airport was packed with passengers trying to leave the country.

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

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.

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 on Monday 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.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard condemned the violence in the oil-rich state, which came after the overthrow of regimes in Egypt and Tunisia and street violence and protests in the tiny Gulf state of Bahrain. "... we condemn in the strongest possible terms the use of the military against peaceful protesters," she said.

First Published: February 22, 2011, 6:11 PM IST
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