A defiant Gaddafi vows to fight to the death

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The Independent Online

The Libyan ruler, Muammar Gaddafi, defiantly vowed to fight to the death in a recording broadcast yesterday after Nato military aircraft unleashed nearly 30 ferocious daytime strikes on Tripoli.

In a phone call to the Libyan state television station, Col Gaddafi denounced the rebels and said he would not surrender. "We will not kneel!" he shouted. "We will not surrender: we only have one choice – to the end! Death, victory, it does not matter, we are not surrendering," he shouted.

"We are stronger than your weapons, than your planes. The voices of the Libyan people are stronger than the sounds of explosions," he said, calling the rebels who have risen up against him "bastards".

Minutes after he spoke, another explosion shook the capital as Nato apparently launched another strike. Pro-Gaddafi loyalists also fired a round of celebratory gunfire after his speech, which lasted at least six minutes. The date of the recording could not be confirmed, but his words suggested it was likely made yesterday in the capital. As he spoke, the sound of low-flying aircraft could be heard, and he quickly hung up.

Libyan state television later showed images of what it said was a meeting between Col Gaddafi and tribal leaders yesterday at an unidentified location.

The Libyan leader has mostly been in hiding since Nato strikes in April targeted one of his homes. Libyan officials said one of his sons, Saif al-Arab, and three of his grandchildren were killed. Col Gaddafi was last seen in a brief glimpse of television footage sitting with visiting South African President Jacob Zuma in late May.

Libyan television said several structures in the Gaddafi compound were badly damaged in yesterday's rare daylight strikes. Nato officials had warned that they were increasing the intensity of their two-month campaign to oust Gaddafi.