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Gaddafi tries to remain defiant

Fugitive leader Muammar Gaddafi accused rebels of handing Libya over to foreign influence and vowed to press ahead with his resistance just hours after an attack on a key oil plant by loyalist fighters.

"We will not be ruled after we were the masters," said the brief statement attributed to Gaddafi that was read on Syria's Al-Rai TV.

The message described the opposition forces as "traitors" who were willing to turn over Libya's oil riches to foreign interests.

"We will not hand Libya to colonialism, once again, as the traitors want," said the statement, which pledged to fight against the "coup."

The words by Gaddafi contrasted sharply with the staggering losses for his regime in recent weeks, including being driven from the capital Tripoli and left with only a handful of strongholds that are surrounded by former rebel forces.

Gaddafi's whereabouts are unknown, but his followers claim he is still in Libya. Some of his family members have fled to neighbouring Niger, most recently his son al-Saadi.

Although Gaddafi's opponents now hold sway over most of Libya - and remain backed by Nato airstrikes - there are signs that the Libyan strongman's backers can still strike back.

At the important oil terminal at Ras Lanouf, suspected loyalist staged back-to-back attacks that began with saboteurs setting fires and then shifted to a convoy of gunmen riding in from the desert.

In a possibly coordinated attack, the port was then targeted by a convoy of armed men apparently based in a refugee camp about 20 miles south of Ras Lanouf.

Former rebels, meanwhile, have been facing stiff resistance from Gaddafi supporters in Bani Walid since last week and have captured most of the northern half of the town, which is one of three significant remaining bastions of Gaddafi's loyalists.

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