TRIPOLI (Reuters) – Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi vowed on Tuesday in a speech broadcast live on state television to fight to the end, after NATO intensified air strikes on Tripoli.
“We only have one choice: we will stay in our land dead or alive,” he said in the fiery audio address, calling on his supporters to flock to his Bab al-Aziziya compound.
Waves of NATO aircraft hit the Libyan capital on Tuesday, including targets in the vicinity of the vast Bab al-Aziziya residential compound, in the most sustained bombardment of the Libyan capital since Western forces began air strikes in March.
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 armed Libyans to swarm across the country to cleanse it from “armed gangs,” a reference to the rebels controlling the east of the North African oil producer.
Gaddafi was last seen on state television on May 30 in footage of him meeting South African President Jacob Zuma.
By Tuesday afternoon, warplanes were striking different parts of Tripoli several times an hour, rattling windows and sending clouds of grey smoke into the sky, a Reuters correspondent in the center of the city said.
“Whether we are martyred, killed or commit suicide, we care about our duty toward history,” Gaddafi said, demanding to know why the bombardment was continuing.
(Reporting by Joseph Nasr; Writing by John Irish; Editing by Andrew Roche)