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TRIPOLI - Libyan leader Moamer Gathafi spoke Thursday to the elders of a town west of the capital where he said a

Libya's dissident-held east vowed to march on Tripoli

Ten people killed as pro-government forces attack rebellious Libyan town of Az-Zawiyah.



 drug-crazed mob of youth spurred on by Al-Qaeda had killed four policemen, urging them to bring their children under control.

Speaking on state television by phone from an undisclosed location, the embattled 68-year-old former colonel fretted about unrest in Az-Zawiyah, 50 kilometres (30 miles) west of Tripoli, as the battle to unseat him began to encircle the capital.

Al-Jazeera television reported heavy fighting there between pro- and anti-government forces and said there had been an undetermined number of casualties.

Addressing the older generation, Gathafi said Al-Qaeda was behind the problems facing Libya, while the youth were on drugs and misbehaving.

"It is obvious now that this issue is run by Al-Qaeda," he said. "Those armed youngsters, our children, are incited by people who are wanted by America and the Western world.

"Those inciting are very few in numbers and we have to capture them. Others have to stay at home. They have guns, they feel trigger happy and they shoot especially when they are stoned on drugs."

The "situation is different from Egypt or Tunisia ... Here the authority is in your hands, the people's hands. You can change authority any way you wish. It's your call. You are the elderly, the head of the tribes, the professors."

"They have been brainwashing the kids in this area and telling them to misbehave. These are the one who are under Bin Laden's influence and authority, under the influence of drugs."

Gathafi repeated what he often says, that he had relinquished power in 1977 (after seizing the government in a 1969 coup) and "since then I only have moral authority."

"It's not like the old jihad, when we had the Italians occupying our land," he said, referring to colonial rule from the early to the mid-20th century.

"It's different. I've given the power to you; you should take responsibility for your country."

After again admonishing the elders of Az-Zawiyah to "take the guns away from the kids," he said "then you should arrest the ones behind them."

At the end of an address that lasted about 20 minutes, he offered his condolences to the families of the four people killed, adding sarcastically: "I wonder if Bin Laden is going to help compensate the families."

"Please do not disappoint me."

This was the embattled leader's second television appearance since protests broke out against his 41-year-old rule on February 15.

On Tuesday, in a defiant, sometimes rambling speech on television, Gathafi vowed to remain in Libya as head of its revolution, saying he would die as a martyr in the land of his ancestors and fight to the "last drop" of his blood.

He ordered the army and police to crush the popular uprising against his iron-fisted four-decade rule that has left hundreds dead.

Residents of Libya's dissident-held east vowed on Thursday to march on Tripoli to oust the veteran leader.

State news agency Jana said three "terrorists" attacked a security forces post in Az-Zawiyah and slit the throats of three policemen on Thursday.

It quoted witnesses as saying an army unit led by Gathafi ally Naji Shifsha blasted the minaret of a mosque being occupied by protesters in Az-Zawiyah.

The Qatar-based channel also quoted witnesses as saying pro-Gathafi forces had attacked Sabratha, which lies between Az-Zawiyah and the capital; Misrata, 200 kilometres east of Tripoli and Sabha, about 650 kilometres to the south.

Ten people were killed on Thursday and dozens more wounded when pro-government forces attacked the rebellious Libyan town of Az-Zawiyah, only 50 kilometres from the capital, a newspaper reported

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