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Tripoli demonstration backs Gaddafi

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A poster of Muammar Gaddafi is seen in a damaged government building in Tripoli, Libya (AP)

A poster of Muammar Gaddafi is seen in a damaged government building in Tripoli, Libya (AP)

A poster of Muammar Gaddafi is seen in a damaged government building in Tripoli, Libya (AP)

Muammar Gaddafi loyalists have staged a show of support in the Libyan capital, claiming the rebel insurgency is nearing its end.

In the main square in Tripoli, several hundred came out for a government-sponsored rally, spraying the sky with gunfire and banging fireworks and waving green flags - the Gaddafi regime colour.

They claimed that residents of rebel-held Benghazi, to the east, were also holding pro-Gaddafi demonstrations, though there was no proof of any such rallies.

The Tripoli rally came after rumours emerged that Gaddafi's wife and daughter had fled Tripoli.

Libya's deputy foreign minister Khaled Kaim denied the reports. "They are in Tripoli, they are safe," he said.

Mr Kaim also denied that oil minister Shukri Ghanem had defected, saying he was in Vienna on business.

The Tripoli demo came the day after the Libyan leader's forces intensified their campaign to take strategic heights in a western mountain range and targeted a road that many people have used to flee the fighting.

Much of the fighting in the mountain range - which has forced a temporary closure of the border with Tunisia - centred around the town of Yafrin, and residents and rebel fighters said Gaddafi forces were using Grad missiles and rockets in the siege, which has lasted nearly a month. Residents, trapped in their homes, were cut off from food and medical supplies, they said.

The United Nations humanitarian co-ordinator for Libya said 1.6 million people inside the North African country need aid because fighting has disrupted basic services and depleted food and medical stocks.

Panos Moumtzis, who is based in Geneva, said an additional 500,000 Libyans who have crossed borders to Tunisia, Egypt and elsewhere in the region also need humanitarian assistance. Mr Moumtzis said he was asking international donors for 408 million US dollars (about £250 million) to fund aid for Libya through September.

PA


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