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Gadhafi urges defiance as oil hub attacked

TRIPOLI, Libya — Libya's interim leader preached forgiveness, reconciliation and unity to his nation on Monday, in his first address in Martyrs' Square, the symbolic heart of Tripoli, since the fall of Moammar Gadhafi.

"Libya is big enough for everyone. We are Muslim, forgiving people," Mustafa Abdel Jalil told a cheering crowd in what was known as Green Square under Gadhafi's rule.

On the same day that Amnesty International accused rebel fighters of unlawful killings and torture during nearly seven months of war, albeit on a much smaller scale than Gadhafi's forces, Abdel Jalil warned Libyans not to behave "like the old regime" by taking the law into their hands.

Abdel Jalil's speech came as Gadhafi loyalists staged a surprise attack Monday in the key oil refinery town of Ras Lanuf in the east, killing at least 17 rebel fighters and wounding 20. A convoy of vehicles drove up from the desert in the south and used medium and heavy weapons to attack rebel forces now in control of the town and refinery, Libyan leaders said.

Gadhafi said in a statement Monday that he will not allow Libya to be taken by "colonizers," a reference to NATO countries supporting the rebels. The statement, broadcast on Syrian-based al-Rai television, said that he was "leading resistance from inside Libya" and that there was "no choice but to fight until the end of this coup."

The statement was just more rhetoric from a delusional man who has lost his power and has nowhere to go, said a spokesman for the rebels.

Military helps secure, set up U.S. Embassy

Four U.S. military members are part of a State Department team that is restoring and securing the U.S. Embassy in the Libyan capital, in part out of concern that it may have been booby-trapped during the fighting between rebel and pro-government forces, officials said Monday. The arrival of the U.S. team in Tripoli on Saturday marks only the second time since the United States became involved there that it has acknowledged having any military personnel on the ground. The first time was in March when Marines rescued an Air Force pilot who had ejected over eastern Libya.

Gadhafi urges defiance as oil hub attacked 09/12/11 [Last modified: Monday, September 12, 2011 11:03pm]
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