Libya – Muammar Gaddafi‘s hold on power appears confined to parts of Tripoli and perhaps several regions in the centre of the country. Towns to the west of the capital have fallen and all of eastern Libya is firmly in opposition hands. In his latest rambling appeal for calm on state TV. Gaddafi blamed the revolt on al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, and said the protesters were fuelled by Nescafe spiked with hallucinogenic drugs.
Thousands of mercenary and irregular forces struck back at a tightening circle of rebellions around the capital, Tripoli, on Thursday, trying to fend off an uprising against the 40-year rule of Muammar Gaddafi. The fighting centered on Zawiya, just 30 miles west of Tripoli, where government opponents had briefly claimed victory.
Fear of Chemical Weapons
Mustafa Abdel Galil, who resigned three days ago from his post as the country’s justice minister, spoke to Al Jazeera at a meeting of tribal leaders and representatives of eastern Libya from the city of Al Baida. He warned that Gaddafi has biological and chemical weapons, and will not hesitate to use them.
“We call on the international community and the UN to prevent Gaddafi from going on with his plans in Tripoli,” he said.
“At the end when he’s really pressured, he can do anything. I think Gaddafi will burn everything left behind him.”
Swiss Freeze Libya’s Assets
The Swiss government said it took the decision “in view of the developments” in Libya, where security forces have launched a violent crackdown against anti-government protesters. Switzerland recently froze the Swiss assets of Tunisia’s Zine Al Abidine Ben Ali and Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak but only after they had been deposed.
The latest asset freeze comes as Gadhafi still clings to power in the face of growing international pressure to halt his forces’ attempts to suppress anti-government protests that have spread to large parts of the country.