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Posted Aug 24, 2011, 11:28 am
Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi has vowed "martyrdom or victory" in an audio message delivered while in hiding from rebel forces and broadcast on a local Tripoli radio station on Wednesday.
The colonel, whose whereabouts are unknown, said he would fight to the last drop of blood against the "aggression," hours after rebels stormed his heavily defended compound in Tripoli, the BBC reported.
On Wednesday morning, a day after its capture by rebels, forces loyal to the regime pounded the Gaddafi's compound with at least seven mortars, reports CNN.
The journalists and other captives, including a former U.S. congressman and member of India's parliament, were held for five days at the five-star Rixos hotel, controlled by pro-Gaddafi forces, while fighting raged on the streets of Libya's capital.
All were freed Wednesday after negotiating their release with the guards in a "heart to heart" discussion.
Pro-Gaddafi al-Urubah TV said Gaddafi, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity, said his forces made a "tactical" retreat from the Bab al-Aziziya compound.
Jubilant rebel fighters ransacked the compound, set fire to Gaddafi's Bedouin tent -- where he preferred to receive foreign dignitaries -- and rode around on his famous golf cart in celebration.
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Gaddafi said NATO conducted 64 strikes against the sprawling enclosure, which was one of the last pockets of loyalist resistance to the rebels in the capital.
In comments that are unlikely to go down well on oil markets, government spokesman Musa Ibrahim promised Libya would turn into a "burning volcano and a fire under the feet of the invaders," in an interview with Al-Urubah.
He said 6,000 volunteers had entered Libya to join the loyalist forces, which continued to launch artillery and missiles at rebel-held towns on Wednesday despite the apparent fall of Tripoli.
A NATO spokesman said Gaddafi himself was not a target of air strikes but the alliance would continue to fulfill its mission to protect civilians.
He said Gaddafi had lost control of the capital but did not say who, if anybody, was in control of the city amid ongoing reports of fighting.
The rebels' deputy ambassador to the United Nations, Ibrahim Dabbashi, said in New York that Gaddafi and his entourage of family and top officials were probably hiding in private homes or in Tripoli's underground tunnels, which had been built for such purposes, the Wall Street Journal reported.
This article originally appeared on GlobalPost.