Libya's fugitive former leader Muammar Gadhafi called on his supporters to set Libya alight, claiming his backers would not give up and those against him were divided, Arabic news channels reported on Thursday.

"Let there be a long fight and let Libya be engulfed in flames," Gadhafi was quoted as saying in a message.

Brief headlines outlining the message were first carried by Al Arabiya television. It said it was citing a message to be broadcast by the Syrian-owned Arrai channel, which later issued similar headlines. Arrai said a voice message would follow.

"We will not give up. We are not women. We will continue fighting," Gadhafi was quoted as saying in a headline carried by the Arrai channel.

In the Al Arabiya audio message, Gadhafi said tribes in the towns of Sirte and Bani Walid, which are under his loyalists' control, are well-armed and "cannot be subdued."

"Even if you cannot hear me, continue fierce and violent resistance to terminate the colonialists," Gadhafi told his supporters in the audio message, his fourth since he disappeared in late August.

Gadhafi’s statements come as the rebels who have seized control of most of the country extended a deadline for the surrender of Sirte by a week, originally set for Saturday.

Rebels have been hunting for the Libyan leader since he was forced into hiding after they swept into Tripoli on Aug. 20 and gained control of most of the capital after days of fierce fighting.

Rebel forces, backed by NATO air strikes, have been advancing toward three regime strongholds: Sirte; the town of Bani Walid, 90 miles (140 kilometers) southeast of Tripoli; and Sabha, in the southern desert.

All three places had been given a deadline of Saturday to surrender. While the deadline extension was officially only for Sirte, rebels said it would also include Bani Walid and Sabha.

There has been speculation that Gadhafi is hiding in one of those three towns.
Gadhafi was last heard on Aug. 25 in an audio recording calling on supporters to defend Tripoli.