Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi said on Tuesday he would not step down despite a natiowide revolt against his rule, vowing to die in Libya as a martyr while threatening to quash protesters.

"I am not going to leave this land, I will die here as a martyr," Qaddafi said in a defiant speech on state television.

"Muammar Qaddafi is the leader of the revolution, I am not a president to step down...This is my country. Muammar is not a president to leave his post, Muammar is leader of the revolution until the end of time."

In a fiery but rambling address, apparently made in front of a building bombed by United States' war planes in 1986, he blamed the unrest on youths and called the protesters "rats and mercenaries" who wanted to turn Libya into an Islamic state.

Pounding his fists on a podium, Qaddafi called on people to take to the streets on Wednesday in a show of support for him.

Despite numerous reports from human rights groups and witnesses of widespread bloodshed, he said he had not yet used force against his opponents but would do so if necessary. The image of his country before the rest of the world was being distorted by foreigners.