WITNESS-In fiery speech, Gaddafi says will not surrender

Wed Mar 2, 2011 5:59pm GMT

* Gaddafi tells nation will "fight until the last man"

* Tripoli remains his last significant stronghold

By Maria Golovnina

TRIPOLI, March 2 (Reuters) - Basking in the adulation of hundreds of adoring supporters, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in a fiery speech on Wednesday pledged to crush an escalating uprising against his rule.

Mixing paternalistic notes with furious anti-Western rhetoric, he told a people's congress in Tripoli that Libyans would die by the thousands if foreign powers intervened in the crisis, and blamed "armed gangsters" for the unrest.

"We put our fingers in the eyes of those who doubt that Libya is ruled by anyone other than its people," he said as delegates chanted "God, Muammar, Libya, only".

"We will enter a bloody war and thousands and thousands of Libyans will die if the United States enters or NATO enters," Gaddafi added as I and other journalists sat on the floor just 10 m (yards) away from the man who has ruled Libya for 40 years.

He was given a hero's welcome as he arrived at the heavily guarded complex driving at the head of his motorcade in a tiny golf cart and waving at cheering crowds.   Continued...

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