Friday, April 08, 2011
Gaddafi Vows To Die As A Martyr
Muammar Gaddafi vowed to die in Libya as a martyr in an angry television address on Tuesday, as rebel troops said eastern regions had broken free from his rule in a burgeoning revolt.
"I am not going to leave this land, I will die here as a martyr," Gaddafi said on state television, refusing to bow to calls from his own diplomats, soldiers and protesters clamouring in the streets for an end to his four decades at the helm."I shall remain here defiant," said Gaddafi.
Earlier, witnesses streaming across the Libyan border into Egypt said Gaddafi was using tanks, warplanes and mercenaries in an effort to stamp out the growing rebellion.
In the eastern city of Tobruk, a Reuters correspondent there said sporadic blasts could be heard, the latest sign that Gaddafi's grip on the oil and gas exporting nation was weakening.
"All the eastern regions are out of Gaddafi's control now ... The people and the army are hand-in-hand here," said the now former army major Hany Saad Marjaa.
The White House offered its condolences for the "appalling violence" in Libya and said the international community had to speak with one voice on the crisis.
The U.N. refugee agency meanwhile urged Libya's neighbours to grant refuge to those fleeing the unrest, which was triggered by decades of repression and popular revolts that toppled leaders in Tunisia and Egypt.
On the Libyan side of the border with Egypt, anti-Gaddafi rebels armed with clubs and Kalashnikov rifles welcomed visitors.
One man held an upside-down picture of Gaddafi defaced with the words "the butcher tyrant, murderer of Libyans", a Reuters correspondent who crossed into Libya reported.
Hundreds of Egyptians flowed in the opposite direction on tractors and trucks, taking with them harrowing tales of state violence and banditry.
In the eastern town of Al Bayda, resident Marai Al Mahry told Reuters by telephone that 26 people including his brother Ahmed had been shot dead overnight by Gaddafi loyalists.
"They shoot you just for walking on the street," he said, sobbing uncontrollably as he appealed for help.
Protesters were attacked with tanks and warplanes, he said.
"The only thing we can do now is not give up, no surrender, no going back. We will die anyways, whether we like it or not. It is clear that they don't care whether we live or not. This is genocide," said Mahry, 42.
Human Rights Watch said 62 people had died in clashes in Tripoli in the past two days, on top of its previous toll of 233 dead. Opposition groups put the figure far much higher. U.N. rights chief Navi Pillay said the killing could amount to crimes against humanity and demanded an international probe.
The revolt in Libya, the third largest oil producer in Africa, has driven oil prices to a 2 1/2 year high above $108 a barrel, and OPEC said it would produce more crude if supplies from member Libya were disrupted.
With no end in sight to the crisis, refugees fled to Egypt.
"Five people died on the street where I live," Mohamed Jalaly, 40, told Reuters at Salum on his way to Cairo from Benghazi. "You leave Benghazi and then you have ... nothing but gangs and youths with weapons," he added. "The way from Benghazi is extremely dangerous," he said.
Libyan guards have withdrawn from their side of the border and Egypt's new military rulers -- who took power following the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak on February11 -- said the main crossing would be kept open round-the-clock to allow the sick and wounded to enter.
Groups of rebels with assault rifles and shotguns, waved cheerily at the passing cars on a stretch of desert road, flicking the V-for-victory sign and posing with their guns, a Reuters correspondent reported.
Libyan security forces have cracked down fiercely on demonstrators across the country, with fighting spreading to Tripoli after erupting in Libya's oil-producing east last week, in a reaction to decades of
As the fighting has intensified some supporters have abandoned Gaddafi. Tripoli's envoy to India, Ali al-Essawi, resigned and told Reuters that African mercenaries had been recruited to help put down protests.
"The fall of Gaddafi is the imperative of the people in streets," he said. The justice minister also quit and a group of army officers urged soldiers to "join the people". Two pilots flew their warplanes to nearby Malta.