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Defiant Gaddafi vows to fight on

By Kim Sengupta

Muammar Gaddafi laid out an apocalyptic vision for the country that had dared to overthrow him yesterday, demanding from his remaining supporters "let Libya be on fire" and vowing death for those guilty of disloyalty.

"Those who do not love me do not deserve to live," he said in his latest message that was broadcast yesterday.

Colonel Gaddafi threatened to unleash a "long war against the agents of colonialism" in a recorded audio message on the Al-Rai channel in Syria on the 42nd anniversary of his seizing power. He vowed: "We will not surrender, we are not women, we will keep fighting."

While the words of the fallen dictator, under fierce pursuit from vengeful rebel fighters, to unleash "a long war" may have sounded hollow, there was enough trepidation about his following among armed tribes for the opposition administration to extend the deadline for a negotiated settlement by another seven days.

Sirte, Colonel Gaddafi's birthplace, Bani Walid and Sabah are all towns under siege by the rebels. The Transitional National council (TNC) had given regime forces until Saturday, the first day after Eid al-Fitr, the celebrations after the holy month of Ramadan, to surrender before the new date was set.

Shortly afterwards, David Cameron warned the "struggle was not yet over" as he confirmed the Nato operation in Libya would continue for "as long as we are needed to protect civilian life".

Speaking at the Friends of Libya summit in Paris, attended by 63 international delegations, the Prime Minister insisted it was the "Libyan people who had liberated Libya" but he was proud of the role British forces had played.

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Russia, which had previously sniped at the Nato military campaign in Libya, tersely announced its recognition of the TNC a few hours before the summit. China has yet to do so but gave de facto recognition by sending an official.

Only South Africa, which enjoyed good relations with Colonel Gaddafi, refused to attend. The South African president, Jacob Zuma, accused Western nations yesterday of undermining efforts by the African Union to negotiate a peaceful settlement.

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