Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Libya's Gadhafi hiding near Algeria border

Libya's new rulers believe Moammar Gadhafi may be hiding in the southern desert, possibly in a vast area near the Algerian border, under the protection of ethnic Tuareg fighters, an official said yesterday.
Abdel-Rahman Busin, a National Transitional Council spokesman, also said revolutionary forces knew Gadhafi's son, Seif al-Islam, was in the regime stronghold of Bani Walid two weeks ago because they held talks about his possible surrender. But he said the negotiations had broken down and it was not known whether he was still in the town.

Revolutionary forces gained control of Tripoli and much of the rest of the North African nation late last month, but Gadhafi fled and has been trying to rally supporters from hiding as fighting continues on three fronts. His sons also escaped and there have been several unconfirmed reports about their whereabouts.
NTC military officials fear Gadhafi may still be able to stoke violence from his hiding place.
Busin said the military has intelligence that Gadhafi is hiding in the vast southern desert with help from Tuareg fighters. Ethnic Tuaregs, whose nomadic community spans the desert border of Niger, Mali, Libya, Algeria and Chad, are among Gadhafi's strongest remaining supporters.
"We do believe that he is somewhere in that region and we do know that Tuaregs are supporting him, probably because he's paying them," Busin said in Tripoli.
He did not offer evidence and acknowledged the military cannot confirm anything.
One report suggested Gadhafi was southwest of the desert town of Sabha, Busin said. He also said a recent attack on the border town of Ghadamis raised suspicion that the fugitive leader was hiding in the surrounding region, a vast area near the Algerian frontier. "Possibly they were just creating a diversion."
Many Libyans believe Gadhafi's son Seif al-Islam and other regime members are holed up in Bani Walid, 140 kilometers southeast of Tripoli, where revolutionary fighters have been stalemated with loyalist fighters for weeks.
Busin said anti-Gadhafi forces had confirmation Seif al-Islam was in Bani Walid a couple weeks ago but talks about his possible surrender had broken down and his location was no longer known.
Revolutionary fighters also have been unable to rout regime forces from Gadhafi's hometown of Sirte.

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