Tripoli: Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, who is facing a mass uprising that threatens his four-decade rule, says he is loved by all and that his people would die to protect him.

In an interview to the BBC, 68-year-old Gaddafi said: "No-one is against us. Against us for what? Because I'm not a president. They love me. All my people are with me, they love me all. They will die to protect me, my people."

Besides the BBC, Gaddafi also spoke to a US TV network ABC and Britain's Sunday Times newspaper in Tripoli.
The Libyan leader said the protesters were Al Qaeda members.

Looking fairly relaxed, Gaddafi, who took over the reins of power in a bloodless coup in 1969, said that he had no official position to give up.

To those who have accused him of stashing money abroad, the colonel said he would "put two fingers in their eye".
When asked about the growing international pressure on him to quit, he retorted: "...if they want me to step down, what do I step down from? I'm not a monarch or a king."

The unrest broke out in Libya Feb 14, just three days after Egypt president Hosni Mubarak was forced to demit office. There has been considerable bloodshed in the Libyan uprising that started off from the eastern city of Benghazi and spread rapidly across the country. An estimated 1,000 people have been killed in the violence that was unleashed by the security forces loyal to Gaddafi.

Gaddafi, however, told the BBC that there have been no demonstrations. "No demonstration at all in the streets. Did you see demonstrations?," he said.

When the correspondent said that he had seen demosntrations in Zawiya town, Gaddafi asked: "Are they supporting us?"
Squarely blaming Al Qaeda for the unrest, Gaddafi said: "...they went into military bases and seized arms and they're terrorising the people. The people who had the weapons were youngsters. They're starting to lay down their weapons now, as the drugs Al Qaeda gave them wear off."

(Agencies)