Fugitive Gaddafi denies fleeing, 'sold 20 pc of gold'

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Muammar Gaddafi today dismissed as lies reports he had fled to Niger, as the central bank said the fugitive ex-leader had sold more than 20 per cent of the country's gold in his regime's dying days.

With remnants of Gaddafi's battered forces pinned down, Libya's new leadership and the US called on neighbouring countries to close their borders to Gaddafi stalwarts.

The former leader, whose whereabouts are unknown, remained defiant in his first address for several days, telling his countrymen: "They have nothing else to resort to apart from psychological warfare and lies."

Speaking by telephone on the Damascus-based Arrai Oruba television channel, he added: "They last said Gaddafi had been seen in a convoy heading towards Niger. They want to weaken our morale. Do not waste time on this weak and ignoble enemy."

Gaddafi also said NATO, which has been carrying out daily air raids against his forces under a UN mandate since March 31, 'will be defeated' as its 'logistical capacities will not allow it' to press on.

"We are ready in Tripoli and everywhere to intensify attacks against the rats, the mercenaries, who are a pack of dogs," he said.

Since his Tripoli headquarters was overrun on August 23, Gaddafi has made several appeals for resistance in tapes aired by Arrai, which is run by former Iraqi Sunni MP Mishan al-Juburi. Juburi, the only media personality able to contact Gaddafi since he went into hiding after forces of the National Transitional Council (NTC) took Tripoli, said the ex-leader and his son Seif al-Islam were still in Libya.

"I can tell you that I spoke with Gaddafi very recently," Juburi told AFP.

"He is in Libya, in very good spirits, feels strong, is not afraid, and would be happy to die fighting against the occupiers," Juburi said by phone.

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