Gaddafi vows to fight on as NATO pounds Tripoli

Libyan government says 29 killed by NATO airstrikes on capital; "We only have one choice, we will stay in our land dead or alive," Gaddafi says.

By REUTERS
June 7, 2011 22:31
2 minute read.
Muammar Gaddafi appears on State TV

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

 
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TRIPOLI - Waves of NATO aircraft hit Tripoli on Tuesday in the most sustained bombardment of the Libyan capital since Western forces began air strikes in March.

By Tuesday afternoon, war planes were striking different parts of the city several times an hour, hour after hour, rattling windows and sending clouds of grey smoke into the sky, a Reuters correspondent in the center of the city said.

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But Muammar Gaddafi vowed on Tuesday to fight to the death.

US President Barack Obama said it was only a matter of time until the Libyan leader goes.

The Libyan government attributed earlier blasts to NATO air strikes on military compounds in the capital.

At least 29 people were killed in 60 strikes on the Libyan capital on Tuesday, government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim told reporters. His account could not be independently verified.

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Bombs have been striking the city every few hours since Monday, at a steadily increasing pace. On Tuesday they began before 11 a.m. (0900 GMT) and were continuing five hours later.

Air strikes were previously rarer and usually at night.

"We only have one choice: we will stay in our land dead or alive," Gaddafi said in a fiery audio address, adding that his supporters were flocking to his vast Bab al-Aziziya compound, which was hit several times by NATO air strikes on Tuesday.

Describing planes flying overhead and explosions around him, Gaddafi was defiant.

"We are stronger than your missiles, stronger than your planes, and the voice of the Libyan people is louder than explosions," he said in his customary impassioned tone.

He said he was ready to unleash between 250,000 to 500,00 Libyans to swarm across the country to cleanse it from "armed gangs", a reference to rebels controlling eastern Libya.

"The Libyan people will march to the east or to the west or to any place where armed gangs are," he said. "We will march on to disarm (them) without fighting," he said.

About 150 Gaddafi supporters demonstrated in central Tripoli, firing AK-47s in the air and waving posters of him.

Gaddafi was last seen on state television on May 30.

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