Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

WEB NEWS

Nigerian web users call for end to violence

Read more

FOCUS

Bitcoin in the US: A monetary revolution?

Read more

ENCORE!

Fast cars and slow trains

Read more

WEB NEWS

Chile: online mobilization to help Valparaiso fire victims

Read more

FACE-OFF

François Hollande: France's most unpopular president

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Mansouria Mokhefi, Middle East and North Africa specialist

Read more

LIFESTYLES

Sustainable cuisine

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Google Was Making A Space Elevator And A Hoverboard, But Couldn't Get Them To Work

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

A bitter pill to swallow

Read more

  • Wheelchair-bound Bouteflika votes in Algerian election

    Read more

  • Films by four French directors short-listed for Cannes' top prize

    Read more

  • Ukraine talks open in Geneva as Putin talks tough on TV

    Read more

  • Pro-Russian separatists killed in attack on Black Sea base

    Read more

  • After cup defeat, Spanish pundits read last rites for Barcelona

    Read more

  • Frantic search for survivors of sunken South Korea ferry

    Read more

  • India heads to polls in single largest day of voting

    Read more

  • Man executed in Texas for 2002 triple murder

    Read more

  • Scandal-hit French doctor Jacques Servier dies at 92

    Read more

  • Belgian head of wildlife reserve shot in DR Congo

    Read more

  • Crunch talks on Ukraine begin in Geneva

    Read more

  • Stagehand of God? Maradona's legendary goal inspires a play

    Read more

  • US rolls out red carpet for French critic of capitalism

    Read more

  • N. Korea not amused by London hair salon's Kim Jong-un ad

    Read more

  • Real Madrid beat old foes Barcelona to lift Copa del Rey

    Read more

  • France's new PM targets welfare in drive to cut spending

    Read more

  • Campaigning against Bouteflika's re-election... in France

    Read more

  • Brazil club Mineiro cancel Anelka signing after no-show

    Read more

  • Syria 'torture' photos silence UN Security Council members

    Read more

  • Paris laboratory loses deadly SARS virus samples

    Read more

  • More than 100 schoolgirls kidnapped in northeast Nigeria

    Read more

  • New York police disband unit targeting Muslims

    Read more

  • 'Miracle girl' healthy after seven-organ transplant in Paris

    Read more

  • Paris police memo calling for Roma eviction ‘rectified’

    Read more

  • Burgundy digs into France's bureaucratic 'mille-feuille'

    Read more

Africa

Gaddafi makes defiant address as key city falls

©

Latest update : 2011-08-15

Colonel Muammar Gaddafi on Monday urged his people to "liberate Libya" from NATO and traitors. The leader's speech came a day after rebels took a strategic western city and held talks with government representatives.

REUTERS - Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi urged his people early on Monday to "liberate Libya" from NATO and traitors, a day after rebels captured a key town on the road west to Tunisia, severing Tripoli’s main supply route.

Late on Sunday, representatives of Gaddafi’s government were holding talks with rebels at a hotel on the southern Tunisian island of Djerba, a source with direct knowledge of the talks said — though the government spokesman denied it.

The talks followed a dramatic advance by the rebels that won them control of the town of Zawiyah, 50 km (30 miles) west of Tripoli on the coast, enabling them to halt food and fuel supplies from Tunisia to Gaddafi’s stronghold in the capital.

Tripoli was not under immediate threat from a rebel attack, but rebel forces are now in their strongest position since the uprising against 41 years of Gaddafi’s rule began in February, controlling the coast both east and west of Tripoli.

The rebels are helped by NATO aircraft which, under a U.N. mandate to protect civilians from Gaddafi’s forces, are bombing military facilities and equipment that are trying to crush the rebel fighters.

Gaddafi’s speech on Monday, delivered over a poor quality telephone line and broadcast by state television in audio only, was his first public address since rebel fighters launched their latest offensive, the biggest in months.

“The Libyan people will remain and the Fateh revolution (which brought Gaddafi to power in 1969) will remain. Move forward, challenge, pick up your weapons, go to the fight for liberating Libya inch by inch from the traitors and from NATO,” the Libyan leader said.

“Get ready for the fight ... The blood of martyrs is fuel for the battlefield,” he said, in what state television said was a live speech.

In Djerba late on Sunday, security staff turned away a Reuters reporter from the hotel where the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the talks between rebel and government representatives were being held.

Lights were on inside the hotel and a man in jeans and t-shirt, a list in his hand, was standing outside with hotel security staff.

In Tripoli, government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim blamed Western leaders and the media for the spread of rumours that the government was engaged in talks on the leader’s departure from Libya.

“This information is absolutely incorrect and it is part of a media war against us. Their target is to confuse us, break our spirit, and shake our morale,” he said.

“The leader is here in Libya, fighting for the freedom of our nation. He will not leave Libya,” Ibrahim said.

Gaddafi’s characteristically defiant speech followed a day of action across a swathe of northwest Libya during which rebels said they had seized the town of Surman, next door to Zawiyah, there was fighting in the town of Garyan that controls the southern access to Tripoli, and shooting could be heard near the main Libyan-Tunisian border crossing.

Rebel flag

Rebels from the Western Mountains region to the south advanced into Zawiyah late on Saturday, and early on Sunday, about 50 rebel fighters were milling around near the central market, triumphantly shouting “Allahu Akbar!” (“God is greatest”).

The red, black and green rebel flag was flying from a shop. At the point where it passes through Zawiyah, the main highway linking Tripoli to Tunisia was empty of traffic.

Rebel fighters told Reuters there were still forces loyal to Gaddafi in the town, including snipers on tall buildings. Bursts of artillery and machinegun fire could be heard.

One rebel fighter said Gaddafi’s forces controlled the oil refinery on the northern edge of Zawiyah — a strategic target because it is the only one still functioning in western Libya and Gaddafi’s forces depend on it for fuel.

The fighting was spreading west from Zawiyah along the coastal highway towards the main Ras Jdir border crossing with Tunisia. A rebel spokesman called Abdulrahman said rebels had seized Surman, the next town west along the coast from Zawiyah.

But at the border crossing to Tunisia, Libyan customs and immigration officers were operating as usual, despite reports of clashes between rebels and pro-Gaddafi forces in the area late on Saturday.

On another front in Sunday’s fighting, heavy gunfire could be heard from the town Of Garyan, a Reuters reporter in the area said. A rebel fighter told Reuters “We control 70 percent of Garyan. There is still fighting taking place at the moment.”

Government spokesman Ibrahim said Zawiyah and Garyan were “under our full control” but that there were small pockets of fighting in two other locations in the area around Tripoli.

The coastal highway between Tripoli and Tunisia had not been blocked by the fighting, Ibrahim said in a telephone interview on Sunday, but foreigners were not being allowed to use the route “to save them from any bullets here or there”.

Rebels, backed by NATO warplanes, have been trying since February to end Gaddafi’s rule in the bloodiest of the “Arab Spring” uprisings convulsing the Middle East.

After a period of deadlock, the rebels’ advance to the Mediterranean coast near Tripoli represents a major shift in the balance of forces.

Gaddafi says the rebels are armed criminals and al Qaeda militants, and has described the NATO campaign as an act of colonial aggression aimed at stealing Libya’s oil.

Date created : 2011-08-15

  • LIBYA

    Rebels seize western town centre, reports say

    Read more

  • LIBYA

    NATO airstrike killed dozens of civilians, Libya says

    Read more

  • LIBYA

    Libyan rebel leader sacks cabinet after general’s death

    Read more

Comments

COMMENT(S)