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Gadhafi son vows they'll 'die in our land'

TRIPOLI, Libya -- Moammar Gadhafi's son Seif al-Islam vowed yesterday to fight to the death, insisting no regime loyalists would surrender to the rebels, who are closing in on Gadhafi's final strongholds.

Seif al-Islam, Gadhafi's longtime heir-apparent, said he was speaking from the suburbs of Tripoli and insisted his father was fine.

"We are going to die in our land," he said in an audio statement broadcast on Syria's Al-Rai television, claiming he was speaking for loyalist leaders who had met in the Gadhafi bastion of Bani Walid. "No one is going to surrender."

His statement came shortly after a conflicting interview on Al-Arabiya television by a man claiming to be his brother, al-Saadi, who said he was ready to mediate talks with the rebels in order to bring the fighting to an end.

"The most important thing is to stop the bloodshed," al-Saadi told the Saudi Arabian television network, claiming he was speaking on behalf of his father.

Seif al-Islam's voice was easily recognizable, but al-Saadi's was more difficult to confirm.

Asked about his brother's statements, Seif al-Islam said he was under pressure: "This means nothing."

A rebel commander in Tripoli, Abdel Hakim Belhaj, said earlier Wednesday that al-Saadi was trying to negotiate terms for his own surrender if his safety could be guaranteed. When asked about that report, al-Saadi said he had talked to Belhaj and several other rebel officials, but that he was only offering to surrender to bring an end to the bloodshed.

The dueling audio statements suggest growing turmoil in Gadhafi's inner circle as rebel forces pressed toward three of the loyalists' main strongholds, Gadhafi's hometown of Sirte and the desert towns of Bani Walid and Sabha. The rebels also say they are closing in on the elder Gadhafi, who has been on the run since rebels swept into the capital last week.

"The regime is dying," said rebel council spokesman Abdel-Hafiz Ghoga, reacting to the brothers' statements. "Gadhafi's family is trying to find an exit. They only have to surrender completely to the rebels and we will offer them a fair trial. We won't hold negotiations with them over anything," he added.

Today will mark the 42nd anniversary of the coup that brought Gadhafi to power.

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