Gaddafi resurfaces on Libyan TV after two-week absence

Libyan leader has not been seen since April 30 NATO airstrike killed his youngest son; state television shows him at Tripoli hotel.

By REUTERS
May 12, 2011 09:06
2 minute read.
Muammar Gaddafi appears on State TV

Gaddafi on state TV 311. (photo credit: REUTERS/Libyan TV)

TRIPOLI - Libyan state television showed footage of Muammar Gaddafi meeting officials in a Tripoli hotel, ending nearly two weeks of doubt over his fate since a NATO air strike killed his son.

The Libyan leader, who had not been seen in public since the April 30 strike on his Tripoli compound killed his youngest son and three of his grandchildren, made his appearance on Wednesday in his trademark brown robe, dark sunglasses and black hat.

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"We tell the world these are the representatives of the Libyan tribes," said Gaddafi, pointing to the officials and naming a few of them.

"You will be victorious," an old man told Gaddafi, referring to the three-month-old revolt in the North African country against the Libyan leader's 41 years of rule.

A screen behind Gaddafi showed a morning chat show on state al-Jamahirya television. A zoom-in on the screen showed Wednesday's date displayed in the corner.

Reuters journalists based at the same hotel said some rooms had been sealed off during the day for an event, but they had not seen Gaddafi. In the past he has made high-profile entrances accompanied by a large staff of minders and aides.

A Reuters correspondent said he heard at least two blasts in Tripoli early on Thursday and that they were believed to have been the result of NATO strikes. The blasts rattled the windows of the hotel, he said.

Libyan officials said two people had been killed in NATO strikes and showed foreign journalists two bodies at a hospital. Staff at the hospital said they had treated more than 20 people who had been wounded.

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On Wednesday, rebels trying to overthrow Gaddafi said they had captured the airport in the city of Misrata in heavy fighting. Hailing it as a major victory, the rebels said they had also seized large quantities of weapons and munitions.

No independent verification of the rebels' account was available.

Misrata, besieged by Gaddafi's forces for eight weeks, is strategically important to rebel hopes of winning the war because it is the only city they hold in the west of the North African country. It also has a key port.

The war, linked to this year's uprisings in other Arab countries, has reached a stalemate. The rebels hold Benghazi and other towns in the oil-producing east while the government controls Tripoli and almost all of the west.

Thousands have been killed in the fighting.


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