Saif Gaddafi denies media reports of turmoil in Libya

Anti-Gaddafi rebels take over city closest to Tripoli; UK revokes Gaddafi and family's diplomatic immunity; 100,000 refugees flee Libya.

By REUTERS
February 27, 2011 18:27
2 minute read.
Seif al-Islam Gadhafi addresses Libya on state TV

Seif al Islam Gadhafi 311. (photo credit: Associated Press)

The son of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi denied in a US television interview that turmoil was sweeping the country and said the military did not use force against the people, despite reports to the contrary.

There was a "big, big gap between reality and the media reports," Gaddafi's son, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, told ABC News' "This Week" television program. "The whole south is calm. The west is calm. The middle is calm. Even part of the east."

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His assessment came despite media reports of more gains by anti-Gaddafi forces with the latest coming from the city of Zawiyah, only 30 miles (50 km) west of the Libyan capital of Tripoli.

Saif Gaddafi also denied allegations that the military was targeting Libyan citizens
.

"Show me a single attack, show me a single bomb," he said in the interview. "The Libyan air force destroyed just the ammunition sites. That's it."

Meanwhile, armed men opposed to Gaddafi's rule are in control of the city of Zawiyah, about 30 miles west of the capital Tripoli, a Reuters reporter in the town said.

The red, green and black flag of Libya's anti-Gaddafi rebellion was flying from a building in the centre of the town and a crowd of several hundred people was chanting "This is our revolution," the reporter said.

Also on Sunday, the British government revoked the diplomatic immunity in the UK of Gaddafi and his sons, Foreign Secretary William Hague said, urging Gaddafi to step down.

"Of course it is time for Col. Gaddafi to go," Hague said in a BBC interview.

"That is the best hope for Libya and last night I signed a directive revoking his diplomatic immunity in the United Kingdom, but also the diplomatic immunity of his sons, his family, his household, so it's very clear where we stand on his status as a head of state," he said.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said on Sunday that nearly 100,000 people have fled violence in Libya in the past week, streaming into Tunisia and Egypt in a growing humanitarian crisis.

They include Tunisians, Egyptians, Libyans and third country nationals including Chinese and other Asians. About half of the 100,000 have gone to Tunisia and half to Egypt.

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"We call upon the international community to respond quickly and generously to enable these governments to cope with this humanitarian emergency," UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres said.

The Geneva-based UNHCR began an airlift of shelter and other relief supplies on Saturday night to Djerba, Tunisia, and the aid will be brought to the Libyan border, it said.


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