Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has issued a warning to the United Nations to stay out of the country, or carnage will be the result.
“We will enter a bloody war and thousands and thousands of Libyans will die if the United States enters or NATO enters,” Gaddafi told Tripoli supporters at a gathering televised live.
The warning comes as two US warships arrived in the Mediterranean Sea, en route to Libya.
Meanwhile, opposition forces have repelled an attack by troops loyal to Gaddafi in the rebel-controlled east of the country.
The Libyan troops had struck at an oil installation in the port of Brega, near the city of Ajdabiya.
Plumes of smoke were seen coming from Ajdabiya and witnesses said an arms dump there had been hit by air force planes, supporting the ground force advance on Brega.
Eyewitness reports varied but several estimated that up to 400 troops attacked the city’s oil and gas plants early in the morning.
A Sirte Oil company engineer, Mufta Khafaji, said at least eight oil workers were killed.
The attack signalled the first major attempt by Colonel Gaddafi to regain control of the country’s east.
Rebel leaders frustrated at Colonel Gaddafi’s diminished but unyielding grip on power have asked the United Nations for air strikes as the Arab League considered a resolution opposing foreign military intervention.
Colonel Gaddafi’s effort to crush the two-week uprising was condemned by the 192-member United Nations General Assembly, and Western powers are debating how to stop the attacks.
Speaking from Tripoli after the port attack, Colonel Gaddafi addressed Libyans live on television for more than an hour, saying: “We will put two fingers in the eyes of whoever defies the Libyan people.”
He insisted he held no real power in the country. “The world must understand this truth: There is no place for a president, a king, or a leader in the Jamahiriya system,” he said in front of dozens of chanting supporters.
A resident of Brega said by telephone Colonel Gaddafi’s forces had entered the town and fighting was taking place at the port.
A doctor in Ajdabiya, Ayman al-Moghrabi, told AFP the attack began under cover of darkness.
“During the night Gaddafi’s forces attacked the airport at Brega where they clashed with the rebels,” said the doctor.
Mustafa Gheriani, a spokesman for the rebels told Reuters: “They tried to take Brega this morning, but they failed. It is back in the hands of the revolutionaries. He is trying to create all kinds of psychological warfare to keep these cities on edge.”