Muammar Gaddafi warned from hiding Thursday that tribes loyal to him were well-armed and preparing for battle, hours after rebels hoping for a peaceful surrender extended the deadline for loyalist forces to give up in the longtime Libyan leader's hometown.
Gaddafi's audio statement, broadcast by Syrian-based Al-Rai TV, came as the rebels said they were closing in on the former dictator.
"We won't surrender again; we are not women, we will keep fighting," Gaddafi said. His voice was recognizable, and Al-Rai has previously broadcast several statements by Gaddafi and his sons.
Rebels have been hunting for the Libyan leader since he was forced into hiding
after they swept into Tripoli on August 20 and gained control of most of the capital after days of fierce fighting.
Libyans celebrate Gaddafi's ouster (Photo: Reuters)
There has been speculation that Gaddafi is hiding within Libya, while others have claimed the embattled dictator has sought refuge in Algeria. The Algerian foreign minister denied these last claims.
In Thursday's message, Gaddafi said the tribes in Sirte and Bani Walid are armed and "there is no way they will submit." He called for continued resistance, warning "the battle will be long and let Libya burn."
But the rebels, who have effectively ended Gaddafi's rule, insist the fight is going in their favor.
"The regime is dying," rebel council spokesman Abdel-Hafiz Ghoga said late Wednesday. "Gaddafi's family is trying to find an exit. They only have to surrender completely to the rebels and we will offer them a fair trial. We won't hold negotiations with them over anything."
Meanwhile, Libya's new leaders gathered with their foreign allies in Paris to coordinate political and economic reconstruction. Some participants will also be jostling for a share in postwar contracts in the wealthy North African oil and gas producer.
The European Union announced Thursday announced that it is lifting its sanctions on Libyan ports, banks and energy firms.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said the goal was to provide resources to the interim government to help kick-start the North African country's economy.
AP and Reuters contributd to the report