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Gaddafi insists he is still in Libya - as death toll reaches 300

Col Gaddafi has appeared briefly on state TV to insist that he has not fled the country – meanwhile, the UN Security Council will meet today to discuss protests in Libya as the death toll reaches 300.

An Egyptian army soldiers stands in front of the Libyan embassy entrance, during a demonstration calling for the ouster of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, in Cairo, Egypt, Monday Feb. 21, 2011.
An Egyptian army soldiers stands in front of the Libyan embassy entrance, during a demonstration calling for the ouster of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, in Cairo, Egypt, Monday Feb. 21, 2011.
Image: Hussein Malla/AP/Press Association Images

LIBYAN LEADER MUAMMAR Gaddafi appeared briefly on state television today to say he remains in power in Tripoli and show his defiance in the face of escalating unrest.

“I am in Tripoli and not in Venezuela. Do not believe the channels belonging to stray dogs,” Gaddafi told Libyan state TV, which reported that he was outside his house.

Gaddafi’s grip on the country appears to be loosening, with demonstrators claiming to have taken control of the city of Benghazi and several other important towns.

Today, calls on the international community to intervene in the situation have intensified. The former Libyan ambassador to India has called the killing of protesters a “massacre” and has appealed to the United Nations to block Libyan airspace in order to protect the people, reports Al Jazeera. Meanwhile, Libya’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations, Ibrahim Dabbashi said earlier today that Col Gaddafi had started a “genocide against the Libyan people”.

The death toll has risen to at least 300 people as a result of a brutal crackdown by Libyan authorities, with witnesses saying that security forces have fired “indiscriminately” on crowds of protesters and that fighter planes had bombed parts of the capital, Tripoli.

One of the casualties is the brother of a candidate running in Ireland’s general election. Buhidma Hussein Hamed, who is running in Dublin South, today confirmed the death of his 20-year-old stepbrother: Abudul Kareem was reportedly shot in the head during a demonstration over the weekend.

The UN Security Council is due to meet today to discuss protests in Libya and the violent response of security forces, which killed at least 61 people yesterday, Al Jazeera reports.

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