Gaddafi calls foreign news channels dogs

Cairo: A defiant Moammar Gaddafi on Tuesday made a fleeting appearance on state TV to show that he was still at the helm in Libya, calling foreign news channels "dogs" for claiming that he had fled to Venezuela, amid global outrage over use of force to crush an unprecedented revolt against his 41-year rule.

"I am in Tripoli and not in Venezuela. Do not believe these channels – they are dogs," he told Libyan TV, which said it was a live broadcast and the leader was speaking outside his house.

68-year-old Gaddafi, who was sitting on the passenger seat of an old, white van and holding up an umbrella to shield himself from rain, appeared for just 22 seconds on the state television shortly after 0200 am local time (0530 HRS IST).

"Were it not for the rain, I would have addressed the young people at Green Square and spent the night with them to prove I am still in Tripoli and not in Venezuela," Gaddafi said, terming as "malicious" reports that he had fled the country.

The statement of Gaddafi, who is battling an Egypt-like crisis, came amid fresh clashes between security forces and protesters. According to human rights groups, over 300 people have been killed in the revolt which entered the eighth day today.

Al-Jazeera said Libyan Justice Minister Mustapha Abdul Jalil had resigned in protest against the "excessive use of violence" against demonstrators and joined the agitation.

Witnesses in Tripoli told the channel that fighter jets had bombed portions of the city in fresh attacks last night.

Helicopter gunships were also used, they said, to fire on the streets in order to scare demonstrators away. Several witnesses said that "mercenaries" were firing on civilians in the city.

At least 61 people were killed in the capital city yesterday, witnesses told Al-Jazeera. Residents of the Tajura neighbourhood, east of Tripoli, said that bodies were still lying on the streets.

State media was mobilised to forcefully deny the reports of "massacres" in several cities.

In Washington, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sent out a tough message to the Libyan leader, warning against the use of lethal force on peaceful demonstrators.

"The government of Libya has a responsibility to respect the universal rights of the people, including the right to free expression and assembly. Now is the time to stop this unacceptable bloodshed," Clinton said in a statement.