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Kadhafi's son accuses rebels of atrocities
Saif al-Islam Kadhafi, the son of Libyan leader Moamer, accused his father's opponents of leading a "military plot" on Friday, as forces loyal to the regime captured oil-producing towns in the east of Libya. Reports say Kadhafi's forces have seized control of most of the city of Ras Lanuf, while fighter jets fired on the nearby towns of Al Uqaylah and Brega.
Addressing a press conference, Saif al-Islam Kadhafi blamed the unrest on Libyans who were previously held as terrorists by the US.
"From the very beginning, it was clear that there was a military plot. The largest weapons depot was attacked by the armed militia," he said.
"Are they advocates of democracy? Are they reformists? What does a military camp have to do whatsoever with any incident on the streets?"
Saif al-Islam said the ringleaders were known to him personally, since he had previously negotiated their release from the US prison Guantanamo Bay.
He accused the rebels of "holding thousands hostage to fear" with their "heinous acts", including hanging, mutilating and burning the bodies of anyone who opposes them.
He was speaking as his father's forces claimed to have retaken the oil town of Ras Lanuf. Fighting was reported in residential areas on Friday morning, followed by airstrikes on an oil storage facility and a rebel base just outside the town. Casualties were also reported from fighting in Ajdabiya, Misurata and Brega.
Meanwhile up to 10,000 people gathered in the rebel's main stronghold of Benghazi to repeat their calls for Kadhafi to leave.
Other developments on Friday:
- Medics in eastern Libya said 400 people have been killed and 2,000 more wounded there since 17 February;
- In Tripoli, there was a heavy police presence to prevent people gathering in the streets after Friday prayers;
- The UN refugee agency and the International Organisation for Migration warned that they may have to suspend humanitarian evacuations unless they receive more funding urgently;
- Libya's oil production has been cut by 1.4 million barrels a day to between 200,000 and 300,000, according to French company Total;
- Three Dutch soldiers who were held by Kadhafi's forces after an attempt to rescue civilians were released and have flown to Greece.