Monday 22 January 2018

Gaddafi blames bin Laden for chaos

A man holding an automatic machine gun poses in front of a tank in the east Libyan city of Albayda (AP)
A man holding an automatic machine gun poses in front of a tank in the east Libyan city of Albayda (AP)
Anti-Gaddafi protesters demonstrate in Benghazi (AP)
Libyan youths stand on a destroyed tank at Al-Katiba military base after it fell to anti-Gaddafi protesters (AP)

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has accused al Qaida chief Osama bin Laden of being behind the uprising which has plunged the country into chaos.

He spoke as forces loyal to him struck back against rebels in clashes in cities close to the capital Tripoli.

Army units and militiamen attacked a mosque where many were holding an anti-government sit-in and battled with others who had seized control of an airport. A doctor at the mosque said 10 people were killed.

Col Gaddafi blamed bin Laden for the uprising in a rambling phone call to state TV. The Libyan leader said the more than week-long revolt has been carried out by young men fired up on hallucinogenic pills given to them "in their coffee with milk, like Nescafe".

"Shame on you, people of Zawiya, control your children," he said, addressing residents of the city outside Tripoli where the mosque attack took place.

"They are loyal to bin Laden," he said of those involved in the uprising. What do you have to do with bin Laden, people of Zawiya? They are exploiting young people ... I insist it is bin Laden."

The attacks aimed to push back a revolt that has moved closer to Col Gaddafi's bastion in Tripoli. Most of the eastern half of Libya has already broken away, and parts of Gaddafi's regime have crumbled.

In the latest blow to the Libyan leader, a cousin who is one of his closest aides, Ahmed Gadhaf al-Dam, announced that he has defected to Egypt in protest against the regime's bloody crackdown against the uprising, denouncing what he called "grave violations to human rights and human and international laws".

In Zawiya, 30 miles west of Tripoli, an army unit attacked the city's Souq Mosque, where regime opponents had been camped for days in a protest calling for Col Gaddafi's removal, a witness said.

The soldiers opened fire with automatic weapons and hit the mosque's minaret with fire from an anti-aircraft gun, he said. Some of the young men among the protesters, who were inside the mosque and in a nearby lot, had hunting rifles for protection. A doctor at a field clinic set up at the mosque said he saw the bodies of 10 dead, shot in the head and chest, as well as around 150 wounded.

Press Association

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