Army units and militiamen loyal to Muammar Gaddafi struck back against rebellious Libyans who have risen up in cities close to the capital Thursday, attacking a mosque where many were holding an anti-government sit-in and battling with others who had seized control of an airport. A doctor at the mosque said 10 people were killed.Gaddafi accused al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden of being behind the uprising in Libya, in a rambling phone call to state TV. The leader said the more than week-long revolt has been carried out by young men hopped up on hallucinogenic pills given to them "in their coffee with milk, like Nescafe."
“Shame on you, people of Zawiya, control your children,” he said, addressing residents of the city outside Tripoli where the mosque attack took place. “They are loyal to bin Laden,” he said of those involved in uprising. What do you have to do with bin Laden, people of Zawiya? They are exploiting young people ... I insist it is bin Laden.”
Thursday’s attacks aimed to push back a revolt that has moved closer to Gaddafi’s bastion in the capital, Tripoli. Most of the eastern half of Libya has already broken away, and parts of Gaddafi’s regime have frayed.
The other attack came at a small airport outside Misrata, Libya’s third largest city, where rebel residents claimed control Wednesday. Militiamen with rocket-propelled grenades and mortars barraged a line of them who were guarding the airport. A medical official said two people were killed in the fighting and five were wounded.
Gaddafi’s crackdown has so far helped him maintain control of Tripoli, a city that holds about a third of Libya’s 6 million population. But the uprising has divided the country and threatened to push it toward civil war.