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Gaddafi vows to stay

world Updated: Feb 22, 2011 23:12 IST
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A defiant Muammar Gaddafi vowed on Tuesday to remain in Libya as head of its revolution, saying he would die as a martyr in the land of his ancestors and fight to the “last drop” of his blood.

Saying the people were behind him, Gaddafi ordered the army and police to crush the popular uprising against his iron-fisted four-decade rule that has already left hundreds dead in the past eight days.

In a live speech on national television, the 68-year-old Gaddafi said, “Muammar Gaddafi is the leader of a revolution; Muammar Gaddafi has no official position in order for him to resign. He is the leader of the revolution forever.”

“The Libyan people are with me “ he said calling on them to demonstrate from Wednesday. “Capture the rats “ he said of anti-regime demonstrators. “Those killed were from the police and army; they were not youths,” he said adding that there was a “small sick group” that “gives drugs to these youths.”

Opposition up in arms

Meanwhile, Libya appeared to slip further from the grip of Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi on Tuesday, as opposition forces in eastern Libya moved to consolidate control of the region, arming themselves with weapons taken from security warehouses, and fighting continued in Tripoli, witnesses said.

In Tripoli, the capital, the government was striking back at protesters challenging Colonel Gaddafi’s 40-year rule. Security forces and militiamen backed by helicopters and warplanes besieged parts of the city overnight, according to witnesses and news reports from Tripoli. Fighting was heavy at times overnight, witnesses said, and the streets were thick with special forces loyal to Gaddafi fighting alongside mercenaries.