25 Feb 2011

Gaddafi blames Bin Laden for bloodshed

4:09 am on 25 February 2011

State television in Libya has broadcast another speech by the embattled leader, Muammar Gaddafi, who says unrest in his country is the fault of Osama bin Laden.

Colonel Gaddafi spoke by telephone, and said young people are being duped to take part in destruction and sabotage.

He said the al-Qaeda leadership has manipulated Libyans who have risen up against his rule and taken control of large parts of the country.

"Bin Laden ... this is the enemy who is manipulating people," Colonel Gaddafi said, adding: "Do not be swayed by bin Laden."

Referring to violent clashes taking place in the town of Zawiyah, about 50km from the capital Tripoli, Colonel Gaddafi said, "What is happening in Zawiyah is a farce. ... Sane men don't enter such a farce."

"Leave the country calm," he told Libyans.

Gaddafi controlled area shrinks

Reports from Libya say the area controlled by embattled leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi is shrinking as the opposition consolidates its gains.

Witnesses say the capital, Tripoli, is heavily guarded by pro-Gaddafi forces, with tanks deployed in the suburbs.

Other witnesses have seen tanks deployed in the suburbs of the city and describe security forces storming private homes and making arrests.

In the eastern city of Benghazi now firmly in control of the opposition, local people have been queuing for the authorities to issue them guns, looted from the army and police in order to join the battle for Tripoli.

A number of military units in the east say they have unified their command in support of the protesters.

The BBC reports that in eastern Libya Colonel Gaddafi appears to be in control of an ever smaller area, possibly readying himself for a last stand at his home in Tripoli.

US condemns political violence

United States President Barack Obama is strongly condemning the political violence in Libya, and he is stressing that the international community is sending a unified message to Colonel Gaddafi.

"The suffering and bloodshed is outrageous and it is unacceptable, so are threats and orders to shoot peaceful protesters and further punish the people of Libya. This violence must stop", he said.

Mr Obama also said he will send his chief diplomat Hillary Clinton to Geneva for international talks over the weekend.

Mr Obama said his national security team was looking at the full range of options to deal with the crisis.

His administration, together with the European Union, is considering imposing sanctions on Libya in response to the violent crackdown.

The UN Security Council has demanded an end to the violence, while the Arab League has suspended Libya.

At least 300 people have died in the uprising.