Tripoli, March 2 (IANS) Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi Wednesday refused to acknowledge that Libyans were involved in the anti-regime protests in the country and blamed these on former Al Qaeda operatives released from Guantanamo Bay.
Addressing his supporters Wednesday Gaddafi claimed that there were no Libyan protesters, but only Al Qaeda-backed efforts to tear the country apart, CNN reported.
The 68-year-old leader, who has been in power for 41 years, appeared in the state television for the third time since the anti-regime protests began Feb 14.
A wave of anti-regime movements have swept through north Africa and some Middle East countries soon after mass revolts toppled long-term regimes in Tunisia and Egypt.
In his speech broadcast on state television Wednesday, Gaddafi blamed the problems on former prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, who were released to Libya and then freed by Libyan authorities after they pledged to reform.
He was quoted as saying that the released prisoners have become members of Al Qaeda sleeper cells.
Gaddafi said that his country is “stopping Al Qaeda from flourishing” and stopping Osama bin Laden from moving into North Africa.
Gaddafi also vowed to fight to the “last man and last woman” to defend his country.
Calling on the UN and NATO to investigate the facts about what had happened in Libya, the Libyan leader said he saw a conspiracy to colonise Libya and seize its oil, Xinhua reported
The remarks came as Gaddafi’s forces launched an attack to stop the opposition from gaining control on the eastern town of Brega, a major oil terminal.
The CNN report, citing witnesses, said the battle was ongoing.
Opposition forces have taken control of several eastern city Benghazi during more than two weeks of protests, though the capital city of Tripoli is still under the control of Gaddafi.
Alarmed over the worsening crisis, which has killed between 1,000-2,000 people in a little over two weeks, the UN General Assembly Tuesday adopted a resolution to suspend Libya’s rights of membership in the UN Human Rights Council, Xinhua reported.
Nearly 140,000 people have fled the country, which is feared to be hurtling towards civil war.