Muammar Gaddafi’s daughter said the West’s demand that her father leave power was an “insult” to all Libyans in a defiant appearance before a crowd of his chanting supporters in Tripoli.
“In 1911 Italy killed my grandfather in an air strike and now they are trying to kill my father. God damn their hands,” Aisha Gaddafi told the flag-waving crowd who had gathered at her father’s Bab Al-Aziziyah compound in the capital.
The event, broadcast live on state television, marked the 25th anniversary of American strikes on the huge complex, which includes military barracks, Reuters reports.
Then U.S. President Ronald Reagan said the 1986 attack was in retaliation for what he called Libyan complicity in the bombing of a Berlin night club.
Gaddafi, wearing a green headscarf and black leather jacket, said she had been five years old at the time.
“They rained down on us their missiles and bombs, they tried to kill me and they killed dozens of children in Libya,” she said, her speech several times interrupted by the cheering crowd.
“Now a quarter of a century later the same missiles and bombs are raining down on the heads of my and your children.”
Hours earlier, state television said NATO warplanes launched air strikes on Tripoli on Thursday.
At a meeting in Doha on Wednesday, a group of Western powers and Middle Eastern states called for the first time for Gaddafi to step aside.
“Talk about Gaddafi stepping down is an insult to all Libyans because Gaddafi is not in Libya, but in the hearts of all Libyans,” his daughter said.
Addressing the Western powers who are carrying out air strikes under a U.N. resolution to protect civilians against her father’s forces, she said:
“Who are the civilians you are protecting? Are they the people who have automatic weapons and hand grenades? Are they the innocent civilians you are trying to protect?”
“Leave our skies, take away your aircraft and missiles.”
A rebel supporter in the western city of Misrata, which is besieged by government troops and scene of daily clashes, dismissed her speech as a sign of despair.
“Gaddafi ruled Libya with an iron fist for 41 years and killed anyone who tried to oppose him,” Marwan, 22, said.
“What she said is a sign of the despair of the Gaddafi family and his inner circle. They know their days are numbered,” he told Reuters by phone from the coastal city.