Gadhafi blasts 'terrorists,' shells foes

March 20, 2011 at 11:25 AM
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WASHINGTON, March 20 (UPI) -- Moammar Gadhafi branded the Western powers bombing Libya as "terrorists" Sunday as his forces pounded rebels in the western city of Misrata.

"You have proven to the world that you are not civilized, that you are terrorists, animals attacking a safe nation that did nothing against you," the dictator said on state TV, CNN reported. "We will not leave our land and we will liberate it," he vowed.

Gadhafi did not appear on screen, apparently to avoid revealing his location.

A rebel in Misrata said regime forces were bombarding the city Sunday morning with tanks and artillery.

"They are destroying the city," he told CNN.

In the east, the rebel stronghold of Benghazi was quieter Sunday after a government assault Saturday, and residents who had fled were returning, The New York Times reported.

Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, told CNN Sunday morning the operation had destroyed most of Libya's air defense systems and some airfields.

A British military source told Sky News, "We're happy with the way the operation went."

At least one Arab state, Qatar, said it was taking part in the attacks, endorsed by the Arab League, although its role was unclear.

U.S. and British ships and submarines fired more than 110 Tomahawk cruise missiles into Libya and hit about 20 air defense targets, U.S. Vice Adm. William Gortney said Saturday.

U.S. Air Force B-2 stealth bombers and Harrier "jump" jets also hit an airfield Sunday as the U.N.-sanctioned no-fly zone went into effect, the BBC reported.

Gadhafi's government accused the international force of hitting a hospital and other civilian targets and said 48 people had been killed, "mostly women, children and religious clerics."

A woman in Tripoli said civilians were being given machine guns and anti-aircraft batteries to shoot at the coalition planes.

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