Gadhafi more defiant than ever

Libya could descend into civil war if Muammar
Gaddafi refuses to quit, the United States has warned  as demands for an end to his rule carried new
weight after word of unspecified Western military preparations.

But
the veteran Libyan leader remained defiant, sending
forces to a western border area amid fears that the most violent Arab revolt
may grow more turbulent and trigger a regional humanitarian crisis.

In
Moscow, a Kremlin source suggested Gaddafi should step down, calling him a
“living political corpse who has no place in the modern civilised
world,” Interfax news agency reported.

U.S.
Ambassador to the United
Nations

Susan Rice said Washington would keep pressure on Gaddafi until he steps down,
while working to stabilise oil prices and avert a possible humanitarian crisis.

Rice
stopped short of saying the Obama administration was ready to impose a no-fly
zone over Libya that would prevent Gaddafi from using aircraft against rebels
fighting against him.

Gaddafi
appeared unmoved by the outside pressure, and suspicions grew that the veteran
leader, a survivor of numerous coup attempts during his rule, did not grasp the
unprecedented scale of the forces now gathering against him.

In
the meantime, pro-Gadhafi forces battled rebels for six
hours overnight but could not retake control of Zawiya the city 30 miles west
of Tripoli.

Residents said they killed 10
pro-Gadhafi soldiers and captured about a dozen others without suffering any
casualties of their own.

As the battle between opposition
and pro-Ghadafi troops escalates, border battles are breaking out.

The situation on Libya’s border
with Tunisia has reached crisis point, as tens of thousands of foreigners flee
unrest in the country, the UN says.

Aid staff are battling to cope with
an exodus that has seen some 140,000 people crossing into Tunisia and Egypt.

 About 2,000 people are crossing into Tunisia
every hour but once in Tunisia many of them have nowhere to go.

Another 20,000 are said to be
backed up on the Libyan side.

Most are Egyptian, but there are
also significant numbers of Chinese and Bangladeshis.

There are also concerns about
thousands of registered refugees from Iraq, Somalia and Sudan, many of whom
have said they feel trapped, threatened and hunted.

Tented
transit camps are being set up hurriedly on the Tunisian side, while frantic
efforts are being made to charter aircraft and ships to repatriate the
stranded.

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ABC NEWS’ Christiane Amanpour meets Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi for an interview in Tripoli.
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