International

Gadhafi Blames 'Rats' And Foreign 'Agents'; Says He Will Be A 'Martyr'

Under pressure from mounting protests within his nation and mounting outrage from around the world for his government's deadly crackdown on demonstrators, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi has once again defyied calls for him to step down.

On state TV (being rebroadcast and translated on CNN), he just said that "rats" and agents of "foreign intelligence services" are behind the unrest in Libya.

Saying that "this is my country" and that he and others have "irrigated it with our blood," Gadhafi just proclaimed he will "be a martyr at the end."

We'll add more to this post as he speaks.

Update at 3:30 p.m. ET. Al-Jazeera has posted this report, which includes some of Gadhafi's speech (beware, there are some graphic images):

Al-Jazeera/YouTube

Update at 12:07 p.m. ET: He will "cleanse Libya house by house" if protesters do not surrender, Reuters quotes Gadhafi as saying just before he finished his address by pounding his lectern.

Update at 12:01 p.m. ET: Apparently trying to raise the prospect that Islamic extremists might take over Libya if he isn't there to lead the nation, Gadhafi asks who would replace him — "somebody with a beard? Impossible."

Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi during his State TV address today (Feb. 22, 2011). i i

hide captionLibyan leader Moammar Gadhafi during his State TV address today (Feb. 22, 2011).

Al-Jazeera
Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi during his State TV address today (Feb. 22, 2011).

Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi during his State TV address today (Feb. 22, 2011).

Al-Jazeera

Update at 11:58 a.m. ET: "Don't destroy your country for no reason," Gadhafi tells the protesters, who he again refers to as young people high on drugs. "What's come over you?"

Update at 11:43 a.m. ET: If people have grievances, Gadhafi says, they should take them to "the people's committees."

"Armed rebellion ... we won't allow it."

And he's running through some cases where governments used force — including the Branch Davidian case in Waco and China's crackdown in Tiananmen Square.

Update at 11:38 a.m. ET: "You are millions and they [the protesters] are tens," Gadhafi tells his supporters.

Update at 11:37 a.m. ET: It's hard to tell what specifically he's talking about, but Gadhafi is speaking of "new municipalities" and "new people's authorities."

Update at 11:35 a.m. ET: Wear green arm bands tomorrow, Gadhafi urges his supporters.

Update at 11:34 a.m. ET: "I am the head of the people's revolution," Gadhafi claims.

Update at 11:23 a.m. ET: "Anybody who undermines the sovereignty of the state will be punished with death," Gadhafi declares.

Update at 11:21 a.m. ET: Again calling on this supporters to attack those protesting against his regime, Gadhafi says "go out in the streets, chase them and take away their arms. ... It's a bunch of terrorists." (We're listening to Al-Jazeera's translation.)

Update at 11:18 a.m. ET: He's calling on his supporters to take back the streets from protesters. "Get out of your homes, chase them [the protesters]," he tells his supporters, particularly those in the city of Benghazi. "These rats can reach the oil fields and blow [them]," he adds, again referring to the protesters in Benghazi.

Update at 11:16 a.m. ET: "I will fight until the last drop of my blood," Gadhafi says, according to Al-Jazeera's translation.

Update at 11:15 a.m. ET. The Associated Press leads its first story about Gadhafi's address with this:

"Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi vows to fight protesters demanding his ouster and to die a 'martyr,' shouting and pounding his fist in a furious speech on state TV.

"Gadhafi, swathed in brown robes and turban, is speaking from a podium set up in the entrance of a bombed out building that appeared to be his Tripoli residence hit by U.S. airstrikes in the 1980s and left unrepaired as a monument of defiance."

Update at 11:05 a.m. ET: Gadhafi just blamed "a small group of youth who have been given hallucination pills" for attacks on some police stations.

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