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Gaddafi appears in Tripoli amid deadly clashes (UPDATES) (VIDEO)

Muammar Gaddafi made a surprise appearance in Tripoli on Friday, addressing supporters in the capital amid reports that up to 8 anti-regime protesters had been killed in clashes with security forces.

Muammar Gaddafi appeared in Tripoli on Friday, as news networks reported several people killed in heavy fighting in the capital.

Gaddafi spoke to a crowd of supporters in Green Square, a bastion of pro-regime support over the past nine days of unrest, according to reports.

Gaddafi, wearing a winter jacket and a cap according to Reuters, said: "Get ready to fight for Libya, get ready to fight for dignity, get ready to fight for petroleum."

Of the rebels who've taken control in many parts of the country, he said: "Respond to them, put them to shame" and "we can triumph over the enemies."

Alternately blowing kisses and shaking his fist in the air, Gaddafi said: "This nation, we are the nation of dignity and integrity, this nation has triumphed over [former colonial power] Italy."

“Muammar Gaddafi is one of you. Dance, sing, rejoice!”
~Muammar Gaddafi

Becoming more animated, Gaddafi reportedly shouted: "This spirit you have is stronger than any other attempt by the foreigners and the enemies to destroy us."

And: "Do as you please. You are free to dance, sing, and celebrate in all squares throughout the night. Muammar Gaddafi is one of you. Dance, sing, rejoice!"

Earlier, Gaddafi's regime had said it would more than double some public sector workers' wages and promised $400 for every family in Libya, in an apparent last-ditch attempt to hold on to power.

US, UN move against Libya

On Friday, the U.S. suspended embassy operations in Libya and moved to impose unilateral sanctions against Gaddafi's government, White House spokesman Jay Carney said.

The U.N. Human Rights Council, meanwhile, unanimously called for Libya to be suspended from the body and for a probe into violations by the regime. Agence France-Presse reported that the 47-member U.N. body decided to "urgently dispatch an independent, international commission of inquiry... to investigate all alleged violations of international human rights law in Libya."

It recommended the move to the U.N. General Assembly, "in view of the gross and systematic violations of human rights by the Libyan authorities."

Earlier Friday, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay called for international intervention in Libya to stop mass killings and bloodshed that may amount to crimes against humanity. Pillay said thousands of people may have been killed or injured in the mounting violence against anti-government protesters, many by shots to the head or chest, Reuters reported.

Libyan diplomats at the U.N. in Geneva became the latest officials of Gaddafi's regime to announce that they were defecting to the opposition, VOA reported.

Libyan state television, meanwhile, said the special allowances for all families would help to cover food costs sent spiralling upwards during more than a week of anti-government protests that have turned over control of large portions of the country to anti-government forces.

GlobalPost correspondent Nichole Sobecki reports from Benghazi, where the rebellion began a week ago, that the opposition is now firmly in control of the city. She says there is a feeling of pride among the people of Benghazi that they overthrew Gaddafi's forces and are now creating a sense of order not felt under the regular government.

Forces loyal to Gaddafi, meanwhile, are fighting rebels for cities near the capital. His henchmen — many of them mercenaries from other African countries, according to reports — still control Tripoli, after cracking down on anti-government protests several days ago.

Gaddafi on Thursday blamed Osama bin Laden for inciting violence in his oil-rich North African nation, saying his Al Qaeda forces had given "hallucinogenic" drugs to youth in Libya — "in their coffee with milk, like Nescafe" — to get them to incite unrest.

The protests in Libya are the latest to sweep North Africa and the Middle East, but the crackdown by Gaddafi has proven to be the most brutal by any of the Arab leaders.

France's top human rights official said Thursday that up to 2,000 people could have died since the protests began on Feb. 17.

GlobalPost reports from Benghazi

Correspondent Nichole Sobecki reported from Benghazi on Friday:

The opposition here continues to claim that the city is firmly in their control. They have been largely successful in maintaining calm and order. Volunteers have taken over the former internal security building and courthouse, organizing the town’s security, cleaning up, providing food, assisting foreign journalists, and beginning the long road