In an audio message on Thursday, deposed Libyan Muammar al-Gaddafi dismissed speculation that he fled south to neighboring Niger as lies and psychological warfare.
The comments were made in a telephone call to the Syria-based pro-Gaddafi Al-Rai TV, and they reportedly came from inside Libya:
How many times do convoys transporting smugglers, traders and people cross the border every day for Sudan, Chad, Mali and Algeria. As if this was the first time a convoy was headed towards Niger.
Gaddafi encouraged Libyans to take up arms against the rebel forces, and promised that loyalist fighters would succeed in defeating the National Transitional Council (NTC):
To all my beloved Libyans, the Libyan land is yours and you need to defend it against all those traitors, the dogs, those that have been in Libya and are trying to take over the land.
He also accused the NTC of being a front for Western powers:
They were spies for the Italians and now they are spies for France. All those germs and rats ... capture all those who are working with NATO and the UK to bomb our country and kill Libyans and our children.
Niger's foreign minister told the BBC that it was considering whether it would accept Gaddafi, or hand him to the International Criminal Court, should he enter the country and seek refuge.
(Read more on GlobalPost in Bani Walid: Gaddafi's sons play hide-and-seek)
Groups of loyalists fled to Niger in recent days, but the NTC has asked Niger not to accept Gaddafi.
Meanwhile Al Jazeera reported Thursday that Blaise Compaore, the president of Burkina Faso, also denied Gaddafi is in his country:
We don't have any information on the presence of Libyans on our territory since these events started.
Libyan fighters on Wednesday said they had Gaddafi surrounded within a 60-kilometer radius.
The NTC said Gaddafi was thought to be traveling in a convoy of about 10 cars and may be using a tent as shelter.