Tripoli – Muammar Gaddafi vowed to remain on Libyan soil battling NATO and the country’s new leaders, dismissing reports that he had secretly fled towards bordering African states as part of a military convoy.

His defiant comments to Syrian-owned TV came as fighters advanced on the tribal bastion of Bani Walid overnight, girding for a showdown with loyalist supporters in a town they suspect could be harbouring the ousted strongman and two of his sons.

In a call to broadcaster Arrai TV on Thursday, the 69-year-Gaddafi, toppled by rebels two weeks ago after 42 years in power, rallied supporters and said surrender was out of the question.

“Our resolute Libyan people, the Libyan land is your own. Those who try to take it from you now, they are intruders, they are mercenaries, they are stray dogs. They are trying to seize our ancestral land from you but this is impossible. We will not leave our ancestral land.

“The youths are now ready to escalate the resistance against the ‘rats’ (transitional forces) in Tripoli and to finish off the mercenaries,” Gaddafi said during the call, which the television station said was being made from within Libya.

Gaddafi said a military convoy that entered neighbouring Niger this week, fueling speculation he might be about to flee, was “not the first”.

“Columns of convoys drive into and out of Niger carrying goods and people inside and outside (of Libya) say Gaddafi is going to Niger,” he said in the call that Arrai TV reported was made from within Libya. “This is not the first time that convoys drive in and out of Niger.” (Reuters/NAN)

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