Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has appeared on state television to signal his defiance in the face of a mounting revolt against his 41-year rule.
“I am in Tripoli and not in Venezuela. Do not believe the channels belonging to stray dogs,” Gaddafi told Libyan state TV, which said he was speaking outside his house on Tuesday
Reports on Monday said Gaddafi had fled to Venezuela.
Gaddafi, in his first televised appearance since protests to topple him started last week, was holding an umbrella in the rain and leaning out of a van.
“I wanted to say something to the youths at the Green Square (in Tripoli) and stay up late with them but it started raining. Thank God, it’s a good thing,” Gaddafi said in a 22-second appearance.
State TV reported earlier that pro-government demonstrations were taking place in Green Square in the capital.
Libyan forces loyal to Gaddafi have fought an increasingly bloody battle to keep the veteran leader in power with residents reporting gunfire in parts of the capital Tripoli and one political activist saying warplanes had bombed the city.
Scores of people have been reported killed in continuing violence in Tripoli amid escalating protests across the north African nation.
Marwan Bishara, Al Jazeera’s senior political analyst, said “in a sense this is a pariah regime that will not have any chance of governing anymore and the international community could come to terms on whether this is a genocide and whether there should be international intervention to protect the Libyan people from the militias of the regime”.
“We’ve heard even a NATO spokesman saying that the Libyan regime should stop committing war crimes against its people so I think there is momentum out there but certainly it’s not quick enough.”
Deep cracks were showing and Gaddafi seemed to be losing vital support, as Libyan government officials at home and abroad resigned, air force pilots defected and major government buildings were targeted during clashes in the capital.
At least 61 people were killed in the capital city on Monday, witnesses told Al Jazeera. The protests appeared to be gathering momentum, with demonstrators saying they have taken control of several important towns and the city of Benghazi, to the east of Tripoli.
Protesters called for another night of defiance against the Arab world’s longest-serving leader, despite a crackdown by authorities
A huge anti-government march in Tripoli on Monday afternoon came under attack by security forces using fighter jets and live ammunition, witnesses told Al Jazeera.
“What we are witnessing today is unimaginable. Warplanes and helicopters are indiscriminately bombing one area after another. There are many, many dead,” Adel Mohamed Saleh said in a live broadcast .
“Anyone who moves, even if they are in their car, they will hit you.”
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said it was “time to stop this unnacceptable bloodshed” in Libya.
A group of army officers issued a statement urging fellow soldiers to “join the people” and help remove Gaddafi.
The justice minister resigned in protest at the “excessive use of violence” against protesters and diplomats at Libya’s mission to the United Nations called on the Libyan army to help overthrow “the tyrant Muammar Gaddafi”.
Both Libya and Venezuela denied reports that Gaddafi had fled to the South American country.
Libyan state television said Gaddafi would give a speech shortly.
Two Libyan fighter jets landed in Malta, their pilots defecting after they said they had been ordered to bomb protesters, Maltese government officials said.
Libyan authorities have cut all landline and wireless communication in the country, making it impossible to verify the report.
With reports of large-scale military operations under way in Tripoli, a spokesperson for Ban Ki-moon said the UN chief held extensive discussions with Gaddafi on Monday, condemned the escalating violence in Libya and told him that it “must stop immediately”.
” … The secretary-general underlined the need to ensure the protection of the civilian population under any circumstances. He urged all parties to exercise restraint and called upon the authorities to engage in broad-based dialogue to address legitimate concerns of the population,” Ban’s spokesperson said.
For this part, several Libyan diplomats at the country’s UN mission called on Gaddafi to step down.
Ibrahim Dabbashi, the deputy ambassador, said that if Gaddafi did not relinquish power, “the Libyan people [would] get rid of him”.
“We don’t agree with anything the regime is doing … we are here to serve the Libyan people,” he told Al Jazeera.
Dabbashi urged the international community to impose a no-fly zone over Libya to prevent mercenaries, weapons and other supplies from reaching Gaddafi and his security forces.
Arab League to meet
Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jabr Al-Thani, Qatar’s prime minister and foreign minister, called for an extraordinary meeting of the Arab League to take place on Tuesday. The aim is to discuss the current crisis in Libya and to put additional “pressure” on the government, Al-Thani told Al Jazeera.
He said the international community must act now. “I feel a big sympathy for the Libyan people. We don’t accept using force in this way or any way against the people or against any nation from their governments.,” he said on Monday.
“And we make our declaration in this space and we think that the international community should also take a stand against what is happening in Libya at the moment.”
“I think the security council has to play a role.. the condemnation is not enough.. i think the five permanent members and others, they should take the responsibility and do something to help the civillian people in Libya, because what happens is not accepted in any way.”
The comments came just hours after Ahmed Elgazir, a human-rights researcher at the Libyan News Centre (LNC) in Geneva, Switzerland, told Al Jazeera that security forces were “massacring” protesters in Tripoli.
Elgazir said the LNC received a call for help from a woman “witnessing the massacre in progress who called on a satellite phone”.
Earlier, a privately run local newspaper reported that the Libyan justice minister had resigned over the use of deadly force against protesters.
Speaking to Al Jazeera, Ahmad Jibreel, a Libyan diplomat, confirmed that the justice minister, Mustapha Abdul Jalil, had sided with the protesters.
“I was speaking to the minister of justice just a few minutes ago … he told me personally, he told me he had joined the supporters. He is trying to organise good things in all cities,” he said.
Jibreel further said that key cities near Libya’s border with Egypt were now in the hands of protesters, which he said would enable the foreign media to enter the country.
“Gaddafi’s guards started shooting people in the second day … when they killed two people, we had more than 5,000 at their funeral, and when they killed 15 people the next day, we had more than 50,000 the following day,” he said, adding “the more Gaddafi kills people, the more people go into the streets.”