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After nearly 2 weeks out of sight, Gadhafi appears on Libyan TV

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Gadhafi makes first appearance in weeks
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Libyan leader Col. Moammar Gadhafi was last seen on video April 30
  • A Libyan government spokesman says Gadhafi is alive and well
  • Some wonder if he was killed in a NATO airstrike

Tripoli, Libya (CNN) -- Renewed bombing could be heard Thursday morning in Tripoli shortly after NATO jets were heard flying over the city.

The explosions came a few hours after Libyan state television broadcast video late Wednesday that it said showed Col. Moammar Gadhafi meeting earlier in the day with tribal elders in a hotel in the capital -- marking the Libyan leader's first public appearance in nearly two weeks.

"The leader met with tribal elders in Tripoli a few hours ago, and this proves the perseverance and permanence of the Libyan nation and its leader," the announcer said. "God willing, they are victorious."

The camera panned from a television program bearing the date May 11 to the group of more than a dozen men, including Gadhafi.

The TV appearance was the first for Gadhafi -- who was wearing sunglasses and dressed in dark clothing -- since April 30, the same day a NATO airstrike hit the Tripoli compound reportedly housing him and one of his sons. Libyan officials said at the time that Saif al-Arab Gadhafi was killed, but his father had escaped.

Libyan television ran a banner that said he was meeting with tribal elders. The camera showed a seated Gadhafi speaking to the men, who were also seated. Wednesday's appearance took place in the Rixos Hotel, a government official said. The hotel houses a number of international journalists, including those working for CNN.

"Let me tell you something, dear leader," one of the men says. "I swear to God you will surely win."

Libyan refugees flee country
Rebels in Gadhafi's capital
RELATED TOPICS
  • Moammar Gadhafi
  • Libya
  • NATO

Libyan government spokesman Musa Ibrahim had said earlier in the day that Gadhafi was "alive, well and very healthy." Ibrahim added that Gadhafi had been targeted three times by NATO airstrikes and that government officials were worried about his safety. "We need him to lead, to be safe," Ibrahim said.

Earlier Wednesday, the chief operations officer of NATO's Operation Unified Protector told reporters in Brussels, Belgium, that the organization had no evidence about what Gadhafi was doing. "And I tell you the truth, we're not really interested in what he is doing," Brig. Gen. Claudio Gabellini said. "Our mandate is to protect civilians from the attacks and from the threat of attacks, so we're not looking after individuals."

NATO took over the mission to protect Libyan civilians authorized by a United Nations resolution and is using airstrikes to target installations that may be used to facilitate attacks against civilians.

Gabellini said that NATO is targeting military objectives, not individuals.

CNN's Barbara Starr, Jasmine Amer, Ben Brumfield and Jomana Karadsheh contributed to this story.

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