Gaddafi compound after rebel takeover Photo: Reuters
Gaddafi vows to 'win or die'
Libyan leader says in radio statement his forces will continue to fight until end, claims to have traveled around Tripoli while not feeling any danger; rebels launch hunt for underground tunnel network in attempt to find him
LIBYA - Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi vowed to resist the rebels with all his might until "victory or death" on Tuesday night as rebel forces continued to search for his whereabouts. The audio statement was broadcast on a local radio station hours after opposition fighters stormed his Tripoli compound.
Gaddafi said that the decision to retreat from his Bab al-Aziziya compound was a strategic move that came in response to 64 NATO attacks on the site.
In his radio address, Gaddafi called on all residents of Tripoli to "cleanse" the capital from the rebels. He even claimed to have traveled in the city and not feeling any danger. "All Libyans must be present in Tripoli – young people, tribesmen and even women have to sweep Tripoli and clean it from its traitors."
According to Gaddafi, "I traveled around in secret for a while without people seeing me and did not feel that the city was in danger."
Gaddafi famous Zenga Zenga speech several months ago
Meanwhile, it was reported that forces loyal to the embattled leader fired scud missiles at the rebel stronghold of Misrata, and launched an offensive in the town of Ajelat, which is located near the capital.
The Al Arabiya news network also reported on Tuesday night that the forces bombed the port city of Zuwara, which is located 40 kilometers from Libya's border with Tunisia.
Rebels stomping on Gaddafi statue (Photo: AP)
Moussa Ibrahim, a spokesman for Gaddafi, said during the broadcast that the security forces were prepared to battle the rebels for months, if not years. He warned that they will turn Libya into "volcanoes, lava and fire."
'We want the rat to come out'
The statements were made hours after hundreds of rebels stormed the dictator's compound and smashed the iconic golden statue stationed outside his palace. After looting the premises the rebels launched a search for the secret entrance to the immense network of underground tunnels, believed by some to be Gaddafi's hiding place.
The British newspaper Daily Mail reported that experts estimate that women and children, who are at the risk of being used as human shields, are hiding in the well-fortified tunnels as well.
Rebel celebrating after compound takeover (Photo: AP)
"Gaddafi, where are you? We are looking for you," one fighter said as the of rebels poured into the compound. "We want the rat to come out of his hole. He is still underground."
Some experts estimated that Gaddafi will use the passageways to escape to a neighboring country, but the Pentagon said Tuesday that the leader was still in Libya.
According to the Daily Mail report, one of the pathways opens into the Rixos Hotel, where journalists covering the developments are staying. This could have allowed Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam to appear
there suddenly on Tuesday night, and disappear just as quickly.
Others estimated that Gaddafi has retreated to his home town, Sirte, where his remaining loyalists appear to be barricaded with weapon caches.
On Tuesday night the rebels announced that they have taken control of the Tripoli district of Abu Salim, which is considered a stronghold of Gaddafi's supporters. Meanwhile, the Qatar-based news network Al Jazeera reported that the rebels have seized the capital's airport as well.