Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi has vowed to fight till the death and die a martyr in his homeland, refusing to step down amid widespread anti-government protests.
In his first major speech since the unrest began, Gaddafi talked of the “cowards and traitors” responsible, while referring to protesters as “rats”.
Gaddafi urged his supporters to take to the streets and attack the opposition, who he claimed was bribed, drugged and “serving the devil.”
However, Libyan interior minister Abdel Fattah Younes al Abidi defected on Tuesday and joined the protesters, calling on the army to follow and support the people’s demands for change.
Several Libyan ambassadors have also quit in protest over the use of force on civilians who are demanding the end of Gaddafi’s decades-long rule.
The country’s leader reportedly ordered the army to use air strikes against the demonstrators – something he denies.
Several hundred people have been killed and over 4,000 injured in the first week of violence, making it the bloodiest of all the Arab revolts.
Earlier on Tuesday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in a statement made before press at the State Department, called on Gaddafi to take action to end violent protests in the country.
Meanwhile, in Yemen, two anti-government protesters have been killed and dozens injured after supporters of the country’s President opened fire outside a university in the capital, Saana.
Tens of thousands have rallied across the country for two weeks, demanding the resignation of Ali Abdullah Saleh