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Gaddafi clings on as rebels consolidate gains

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Gaddafi clings on as rebels consolidate gains


Colonel Gaddafi’s grip on Libya looks increasingly frail amid reports rebel militias are nearing the capital.

In the country’s second city Benghazi, which is all but free of government forces, there were jubilant scenes as protesters called for Gaddafi to go, despite another defiant speech by the Libyan leader on TV in which he blamed al-Qaeda for the uprising.

Earlier, the White House said President Obama had spoken with the leaders of France, Britain and Italy to discuss the crisis. Washington says a ‘range of options’ is on the table, including sanctions and humanitarian assistance.

Many ordinary Libyans, however, fear foreign motives. One man said: ‘‘We have to defend ourselves. Western governments are hypocrites. They are only interested in oil. They talk of human rights but they don’t intervene when we are being killed.”

Gaddafi’s fate appears to rest on control of a number of key strategic locations, most notably Tripoli.

For the moment, he appears to remain in charge of the capital, although there are reports of fierce fighting in towns close to the city.

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