In new audio, Gadhafi denies rumor he fled Libya

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BENGHAZI, Libya (AP) -- From hiding, Moammar Gadhafi is denying rumors that he fled Libya and vows "never to leave the land of his ancestors."

In an audio message broadcast Thursday on loyalist Al-Rai TV, a voice purportedly of Gadhafi denounces reports that he had fled to neighboring Niger and claims he is still in Libya.

Gadhafi also blasts former rebels who ousted him from power as "a bunch of mercenaries, thugs and traitors" and claims "we are ready to start the fight in Tripoli and everywhere else, and rise against them."

The broadcast came amid conflicting statements and speculation about Gadhafi's whereabouts. He hasn't been seen in public for months, and has released only audio messages trying to rally his supporters and lash out at his opponents.