TRIPOLI, Libya -- Fugitive leader Moammar Gadhafi apparently again urged his followers to continue fighting yesterday in a brief message of defiance that carried wider resonance after twin attacks on a key oil hub and fierce resistance in a loyalist stronghold by fighters believed led by one of the former Libyan ruler's sons.
The back-to-back strikes at the Ras Lanouf oil facility, killing 15 anti-Gadhafi forces, showed that blows can still be inflicted deep within territory held by the Western-backed opposition, which is struggling to break through the last Gadhafi bastions.
Opposition reinforcements, including convoys of pickup trucks with mounted machine guns, converged outside the loyalist-held town of Bani Walid for a possible intensified assault after several failed attempts to drive out pro-Gadhafi forces. One opposition commander claimed Gadhafi's son Seif al-Islam is leading loyalist forces massed in the town, about 90 miles southeast of Tripoli.
It's unlikely that pro-Gadhafi fighters can withstand a sustained siege on the town. But it's unclear whether the showdowns in the last loyalist strongholds, including Gadhafi's hometown of Sirte, will mark a crippling end or open a new phase of an underground insurgency and hit-and-run attacks against the new leadership.
"We will not be ruled after we were the masters," said the brief statement attributed to Gadhafi that was read on Syria's Al-Rai TV by its owner Mishan al-Jabouri, a former Iraqi lawmaker and Gadhafi supporter. -- AP