TRIPOLI, Libya — NATO on Tuesday launched its heaviest day of shelling on Moammar Gadhafi’s compound and other targets in the capital, dropping at least 31 bombs in broad daylight and drawing out the Libyan leader, who vowed he’d die a martyr rather than step down.
“We only have one choice: We will stay in our land dead or alive,” he said in a fiery audio commentary on national TV in which he also urged supporters to rally at his compound.
“We will not kneel!” he shouted in a phone call to state TV that appeared to take the station by surprise. The sound was hastily adjusted to make it louder.
“Death, victory, it does not matter, we are not surrendering!” he shouted.
“We are stronger than your weapons, than your planes. The voices of the Libyan people are stronger than the sounds of explosions,” he said, angrily calling the rebels who have risen up against him “bastards.”
Minutes after he spoke, another explosion shook the capital as NATO apparently launched another strike. Pro-Gadhafi loyalists also fired a round of celebratory gunfire after his speech, which lasted at least six minutes.
As Gadhafi spoke, the sound of low-flying military aircraft could be heard whooshing through Tripoli again and Gadhafi quickly hung up.